John Curtis: I have no idea why Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp signed me from Leicester

John Curtis admits he cannot comprehend why Harry Redknapp recruited him for Pompey.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 5th June 2020, 1:04 pm
Pompey chairman Milan Mandaric welcomes Pompey new boys Lomana Lualua and John Curtis to the club in January 2004. Picture: Malcolm Wells

The right-back was a regular for Premier League rivals Leicester when the Blues signed him in January 2004.

Yet Curtis would feature just seven times during the next 12 months before leaving Fratton Park by mutual consent.

It’s a period of his career which puzzles the 41-year-old, who insists he still enjoyed life on the south coast and remains friends with team-mate Hayden Foxe.

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John Curtis challenges Everton's Joseph Yobo during a Premier League game in March 2004. Picture: Dave Thompson

Yet with free agent Andy Griffin signed to replace him just six months after his arrival, Curtis cannot put his finger on what went wrong at Pompey.

He told The News: ‘I kind of jumped ship from Leicester, who were going to get relegated – and did get relegated.

‘I made the smart decision to try to stay in the Premier League for at least 12 months, even though I didn’t feature much at Pompey and spent the second year on loan.

‘Joining Pompey was a pretty easy decision to make, to be honest. I wanted to stay in the Premier League and didn’t get on that well with Micky Adams.

‘In hindsight, was it a good move career-wise? No. I would probably have been better trying to get to a Championship club. But you want to try to hang onto the Premier League as much as you can.

‘I don’t know why Harry signed me, he obviously didn't fancy me straightaway. He saw me and made a decision pretty quickly. Perhaps he thought he had made a mistake? Whatever the reason, he wasn’t prepared to work with me.

‘I don’t know his management history with signings. Does he stick by somebody, helping them, bringing them through, and standing by his decision?

‘Or does he do what he did with me, which was “Okay, it’s not working, he has played five or six games, he’s not good enough, change of plan”?

‘Given the amount of players he signed, probably the latter.

‘I think Harry had liked me as a young player with England under-21s, so maybe he was signing me more on reputation rather than anything else.

‘You get that sometimes. You go to a club and sometimes they fancy you, sometimes they don’t.’

Curtis’ final Pompey outing was in August 2004 in a 2-1 defeat at Charlton.

It also proved to be the last Premier League appearance of his career, before loaned out to Championship Preston a few weeks later.

Within days of his November return upon his loan’s expiry, Redknapp had quit for Southampton.

But replacement Velimir Zajec never gave the former England under-21 man a chance – and he left for Nottingham Forest in February 2005.

He added: ‘Even when Harry left that didn’t change, I didn’t make another first-team appearance and was languishing in the reserves at Havant & Waterlooville.

‘In football, you need to be in the right place, at the right time, have a bit of luck and performing well.

‘For whatever reason, Harry didn’t fancy me.’

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