Macca: At last I am back

Alan McLoughlin
Alan McLoughlin

pompey legend Alan McLoughlin reflected on being back in the first-team set-up and admitted: I never wanted to leave in the first place.

The 46-year-old was yesterday appointed first-team coach to bolster Guy Whittingham’s Pompey backroom.

It represents a promotion from Academy senior coach to join his former team-mate with the seniors, plugging the gap left by Andy Awford.

He will now take his place in the dug out for tonight’s pre-season friendly at the Hawks (7.45pm).

For McLoughlin, it completes a welcome return to the first-team environment he left in December 1999.

The Republic of Ireland international made 354 appearances and scored 67 goals in a Pompey playing career which saw him establish himself as a firm Fratton favourite.

And he conceded the manner of his departure still haunts him.

He said: ‘It was December 1999 when I left as a senior player and it has been a long, long time out.

‘I was very disappointed to leave but I was the only saleable player at the time and staff needed paying and there was a new manager in. I had to go.

‘I was 33 and a little bit upset at the time.

‘I was rushed out of this football club in 1999 and brought back two years ago to work in the Academy.

‘Now I am back with the first team again and I would like to thank Guy for giving me the full opportunity.

‘We have been in dialogue for quite a long time.

‘There has been no rush. I certainly didn’t think too long.

‘In the past year it has been tough, I have had kidney cancer and lost a close friend four days before my operation.

‘I’m back now, though, learning about the players and they are learning about me.

‘I am not going to let anyone mess around and I can be quite sharp sometimes.

‘But if they respect me, Guy and the fans who have done so much then everything will be fine.’

McLoughlin has been helping with first-team coaching since the players returned for the start of pre-season training last week.

The Pompey Hall of Famer had originally returned to the club in July 2011 after six years working in local radio.

Initially it was close friend and former room-mate Awford who brought him back as an Academy coach.

Now McLoughlin is first-team coach with a remit of also looking after the development group.

He added: ‘Awfs brought me back into the club.

‘I had some great advice given to me by Paul Hardyman, Ian Buckman is a fantastic coach and there is John Slater as well who works so hard.

‘They are the unsung heroes and keep things ticking over at the bottom end.

‘There are so many people at this football club who are working so hard to move it forwards.’