Former Pompey forward is hero in France

John Utaka steered Montpellier to the French title
John Utaka steered Montpellier to the French title
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John Utaka was the goal hero as he fired Montpellier to the French title.

The former Pompey forward capped a remarkable turnaround after departing Fratton Park last year, as he grabbed both strikes in his team’s 2-1 win over Auxerre.

That made Montpellier the Ligue 1 champions for the first time in the club’s history.

Utaka’s goals sparked jubilant scenes in a game which was twice stopped as Auxerre fans protested following their relegation.

The man who Pompey shelled out £7m for in 2007 hit his first goal in the 32nd minute after Auxerre had taken the lead.

He then got the decisive strike with 12 minutes remaining as he shot on the turn in the box.

That took his total to seven goals in a season which has seen a renaissance in his fortunes.

Utaka was seen as a frustrating figure by many Pompey fans in his time with their club.

Despite showing quality in flashes, the Nigerian often flattered to deceive and failed to live up to his price tag.

Utaka scored 10 goals in 90 appearances, before leaving for France in January 2011.

Paris St Germain were Montpellier’s chief rivals for the French title.

They beat Lorient 2-1, with former Pompey triallist Thiago Motta among the goalscorers, but the big spenders finished in second place – three points behind Montpellier.

Meanwhile, former Pompey boss Alain Perrin has been appointed coach of the Qatar Olympic team.

The Frenchman will take up the role once his duties with Al Khor in the Gulf Clubs Championships comes to an end.

Perrin was in charge at Fratton Park from April 2005 to November of the same year.

That proved to be a largely ill-fated period, with just four wins arriving in his 21 games at Pompey.

Perrin was, however, at the helm for the 4-1 win over Southampton shortly after succeeding Velimir Zajec.