🔵🟡 Throwback: Portsmouth’s class of 2008 was full of dazzling African stars & cult heroes

Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth team fell foul to deep financial problems, relegation and ultimately the club went into administration in 2010. 

But before that terrible fate, Pompey was flying high in the Premier League and even tasting FA Cup success in 2008. That FA Cup triumph was only the second in the club’s long history and its first since 1939 with Mr Redknapp having assembled a talented, cosmopolitan group of players from all corners of the globe. 

The side also enjoyed a brief UEFA Cup run owing to that FA Cup success, which included the opportunity to brush shoulders with the likes of Ronaldinho at Fratton Park…

🔵🟡 Portsmouth boasted classy players from 2007-2009:

  • 🇬🇭 Sulley Muntari
  • 🇳🇬 Nwankwo Kanu
  • 🇨🇲 Lauren
  • 🇳🇬 John Utaka
  • 🇸🇳 Papa Bouba Diop
  • 🇫🇷 Lassana Diarra
  • 🇨🇿 Milan Baroš
  • 🇭🇷 Niko Kranjčar
  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Peter Crouch
  • 🇵🇹 Pedro Mendes
  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Sol Campbell
  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Jermain Defoe

This playing group had a strong African contingent at its core, with the vastly experienced Nigerian Nwankwo Kanu scoring the only goal in the 2008 FA Cup showpiece final against Cardiff at Wembley, and he was ably supported in attack by his speedy compatriot John Utaka. Interestingly, a 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey lined up for Cardiff that day and 36-year-old veteran Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, a Leeds and Chelsea legend, was also on the losing side for the Bluebirds.

The ever-dependable Cameroonian fullback, Lauren, was also a key member of the playing squad, although he was in the twilight of his career after excelling with Arsenal in the early 00s. Talented Ghanaian midfield schemer Sulley Muntari would go on to bigger things after the squad broke up, winning a European treble with Inter Milan in 2010. 

🏆 Portsmouth’s starting XI in the 2008 FA Cup final

(4-1-4-1): David James; Glen Johnson, Sol Cambell, Sylvain Distin, Hermann Hreidarsson; Lassana Diarra; John Utaka, Pedro Mendes, Niko Kranjčar, Sulley Muntari; Nwankwo Kanu

♻️ Substitutes:

Jamie Ashdown, Noe Pamarot, Papa Bouba Diop, Milan Baroš, David Nugent

The good times at Fratton Park were short-lived, as Portsmouth became the first-ever Premier League club to go into administration in February 2010, despite selling a raft of their top stars, notably Lassana Diarra to Real Madrid for £20m at the start of 2019. At that point, they were still £70m in debt and docked nine points. They would be relegated from the top-flight at the end of the 2009-10 campaign. 

What a team that 2008 vintage was, though, filled to the brim with talented African stars and a handful of cult heroes. The streets will never forget. 

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