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Peron: Spirit Kept Us Up

23 September 2013

French midfielder looks back on his time at Pompey

His time at Fratton Park was almost as short as his stature, but Jeff Peron certainly left his mark on Pompey’s fans.

Over the course of 14 months – during which he made 54 appearances – the Frenchman’s silky skills were foreign to a side who only escaped relegation from Division One on goals scored.

In a tale that has since become depressingly familiar, the 1998/99 campaign was one of financial mayhem that resulted in administration.

But Blues boss Alan Ball was able to bring Peron in from second division Walsall for £150,000 after he had picked up the Sadlers’ Player of the Year award in the previous season.

Although only finding the net on three occasions, he was the manufacturer of many more for the likes of John Aloisi, Steve Claridge and Guy Whittingham.

Peron looks back fondly on his time on the south coast and is glad to see a couple of his former colleagues in charge.

“I really enjoyed my time at Fratton Park,” he revealed. “I came from Walsall which was a family club and later went to Wigan, where the set-up was different.

“In the time I spent at Pompey in between, everyone loved the fans and talked about them – you needed to play there to experience that. It was unique.

“But they were not the best times financially and it needed a lot of spirit, which we fortunately had, for us to avoid relegation.

“There was no problem for me stepping up a league when I arrived from Walsall. The division was far more technical, but it suited my style.

“Alan Ball was a terrific competitor, but he also liked his teams to express themselves through football. That’s very much the French way and probably why I fitted in.

“It didn’t take a lot of adapting for me to come and play in this country because the English game has much of the French spirit about it.

“By the time I had spent three years in England, I probably had more in common with English football.

“I have followed Pompey’s fortunes over the last few years and it was so sad to see them drop down the leagues with the same financial problems of old.

“But it’s good that they have some my old team-mates like Guy Whittingham and Macca (Alan McLoughlin) in charge. They’re people who know Pompey.

“I went to Wigan at the same time as Macca, so I know him very well and he was a tremendous person to play alongside in midfield.

“Now I wish him and the club all the best for the future as they look to start again.”

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