Home-grown talent hopes to encourage Pompey fans

Sam Magri. Picture: Robin Jones
Sam Magri. Picture: Robin Jones

Sam Magri has spoken of his Pompey pride at wearing the captain’s armband.

Now the Fratton youngster is targeting more of the same as he looks to establish himself in Michael Appleton’s side.

The 18-year-old was surprisingly handed the captaincy for the opening match of the pre-season tour – a clash with Gibraltar.

It was a touching gesture by the Blues boss, who decided it would be fitting if a player born and bred in Portsmouth led the side out on the day liquidation was once again spoken about as a serious possibility.

It remains to be seen whether Magri is also given the honour for this evening’s friendly with Brighton.

Nonetheless, it was an emotionally-charged moment for the central defender, who last term captained the Blues’ academy.

He said: ‘Ever since I was little I wanted to captain the Pompey first team.

‘So it meant a lot – and to my family back home.

‘This is my first proper professional year and it has started off by being captain for the first game in pre-season.

‘I remember coming off the pitch after the warm up and, as I walked through the changing room door, the gaffer has thrown the armband to me and said: “Mags, you’re captain”.

‘Happy days! I didn’t really have time to think about it but it was a great feeling.

‘It actually felt a bit weird because I had experienced players in the team as well.

‘But there I was shaking the players’ hands before the game and introducing our lads to their president. It was an unbelievable experience.

‘As a defender you have always got to try to talk anyway, so communicating on the pitch as captain was natural. It does not really make a difference.

‘I never used to be vocal. It is only in the last year I have come out of my shell a bit and started talking more, which has helped my game a lot.

‘The way the club is, there are not a lot of good times at the moment.

‘But hopefully it can be encouraging if the fans see a born-and-bred player is captain.

‘I’ve had a lot of tweets, my dad saw it in the paper and there have been a lot of nice comments, which I appreciate.

‘I’m just really happy about it and hopefully I can do it again sometime.’

Magri was unable to celebrate with a victory, though, as Pompey lost 4-0 to Gibraltar, with two goals coming in each half.

It was a tremendously disappointing start to pre-season for Pompey – and for Magri, who partnered Adam Webster in the centre of defence.

Yet he has urged Blues fans not to get too carried away with the scoreline as Appleton’s men take on Brighton this evening (5pm).

He added: ‘It was our first game of pre-season, with a totally new group of players on a bad pitch and against a team who were used to it.

‘People say pre-season is for fitness – you don’t win the league in pre-season.

‘It’s just about getting fit, getting the lads together and pushing on.

‘Hopefully, we’ll improve on the grass against Brighton tonight.’