Harley’s hoping Pompey can call the tune against ‘The Radio’

Gus Poyet celebrates with Jon Harley after scoring the first goal in the 2000 FA Cup semi-final against Newcastle
Gus Poyet celebrates with Jon Harley after scoring the first goal in the 2000 FA Cup semi-final against Newcastle

He was Jon Harley’s left-sided partner at Chelsea and possessed the greatest vision the full-back has ever come across.

Now the 32-year-old Harley will be on the opposite side to Gus Poyet as he bids to earn a Pompey deal.

The Blues tonight face Poyet’s Brighton at the Barcelo Montecastillo Resort in Cadiz.

It is the final pre-season friendly of their Spanish trip.

And Michael Appleton will be urging his side to bounce back from the 4-0 thumping at the hands of Gibraltar on Friday night.

At least this encounter will be played on grass – a crucial factor, according to the Blues squad.

For Harley it will be the chance to meet up again with the man nicknamed ‘The Radio’ in the Stamford Bridge dressing room.

These days Poyet is proving himself to be an outstanding young manager with the Seagulls – equipping them to challenge for promotion to the Premier League this season.

But he was formerly a Chelsea team-mate of Harley.

The Uruguayan midfielder made 145 appearances and scored 49 goals for the Londoners before both men left in the summer of 2001.

And Harley, who climbed through the Chelsea ranks to amass 42 appearances, still fondly remembers their playing days together.

He said: ‘At Chelsea it was Gus and me down the left a lot of the time.

‘I try to explain to people that, while he wasn’t a natural athlete who was fast, his vision was the best I have ever known.

‘It was as if he was sitting in the third tier of a stand looking down and could see everything on the pitch.

‘He played passes without looking, he just knew where people were and what they were doing.

‘He wasn’t under-rated because people knew how great he was but his vision was the best I have ever seen.

‘Gus was “The Radio” – that was his nickname for his non-stop talking and hence it has probably helped him being a manager.

‘There were so many characters in that team, yet he was the talker, he picked up English just like that.

‘He is Uruguayan and I don’t think it is common for South Americans to pick up the language like that.

‘You could also always rely on him to chip in with goals – he was great in the air as well. When we beat Newcastle in the FA Cup semi-final in April 2000, from what I can recall he didn’t really do anything but we won 2-1 and he scored both goals.

‘I created one of them. I don’t know why he was on the right side of the pitch at that point but I crossed from the left and he headed home.

‘It will be good to meet up with him again tonight. He has done a great job at Brighton.’

The Seagulls finished 10th in the Championship last season – their first campaign back at that level.

Along the way they beat Pompey twice, in addition to inflicting an FA Cup defeat on the Blues at the Withdean the previous season.

Now a division separates the clubs following Pompey’s relegation and today’s friendly will be a tough test for Appleton’s men.

He added: ‘I played against Gus’ Brighton team the year they were promoted from League One and they played some great football.

‘It was his first season and I spoke to him after the game and he said it had taken a while for the players to get to grips with what he wanted.

‘Once they did they almost walked the league.

‘Even last year they put up a good effort in the Championship.

‘They just carried on playing how they wanted to play and it looks like they have had a bit more of an investment this year and are ready to kick on to the next level.

‘I know they have money but even before they bought anyone they were still playing that way and were the best team in League One.

‘Tonight we have to make sure we have the ball more than them but that will be tough.’