Andy Awford reflected on his ‘dream job’ after being named Pompey’s new manager.
The long-anticipated appointment was finally rubber-stamped yesterday morning following a week of talks.
The 41-year-old was the only candidate after his outstanding second spell as caretaker boss, during which he has led the Blues to Football League survival.
For Awford, the role of manager is the fulfilment of an ambition harboured since ending his playing days in November 2000.
The journey has taken him to Oxford, Bognor, Ditcham Park School and then back to Fratton Park as head of the Pompey Academy.
Today also saw Awford crowned League Two manager of the month in recognition of his Blues heroics.
And he spoke of his pride having signed a one-year rolling contract.
‘I drove in yesterday morning knowing what was coming, it had been agreed on Wednesday,’ said Awford.
‘On the way in I made a few phone calls to friends to let them know.
‘It was a bit emotional if I am honest, talking to certain people.
‘It’s my dream job and my mates and my family have played a massive part in getting me there.
‘It has been a rollercoaster for me. I know I have been to Oxford and Bognor and played for Worcester but this is my club, everyone knows that, it’s everything I wanted to do. The day I retired the next goal for me was to be the new manager, definitely.
‘I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. You can’t go from retiring at 28 and not having a clue about management to doing it, so it has been a 14-year process to get here.
‘I think I have served my apprenticeship and worked under some top managers and learned some bits off them.
‘I am still me, though. I have my own values and my own style and my own way.
‘My exit interview at school with my head teacher and what she said to me sticks in there and that has also helped me an awful lot.’
Tomorrow marks the final fixture of the season with the visit of Plymouth Argyle for a Fratton Park sell-out.
For the manager of the month, it is the opportunity to end on a high and secure what had appeared to be an improbable top-10 finish.
And Awford paid tribute to those who helped him to this current point in his career.
He added: ‘When I retired I thought I was going to be the next England manager at 32 – then I met Harry Redknapp!
‘I realised it was a totally different world out there in management and it wasn’t going to happen.
‘You have to be patient. In the PE world I was happy, and at one point thought it won’t come around – but Steve Cotterill asked me.
‘I will text him thanking him for bringing me back into this football club because this is where it has led.’