The Recreation Ground and a relegation campaign provided Sonny Bradley’s League Two grounding.
Now the central defender believes Fratton Park is the ideal backdrop for the next step in his footballing development.
At the age of 21, Bradley has already made 56 appearances – and scored once – in the bottom division during two loan spells with Aldershot.
Certainly a world away from ex-employers Hull City, who secured a return to the Premier League in his absence.
Not that Bradley was concerned, as a season spent unsuccessfully fighting the drop into non-league and ending in the Shots entering administration gave him precious experience.
Last term he totalled 48 matches as he established himself as a regular at the heart of the defence.
Now he has made the switch to Pompey – in a permanent deal – as he strives to continue enhancing a growing reputation.
He said: ‘It was a tough season at Aldershot. They were struggling, they always were but for me it was about getting the games in.
‘Obviously I was playing there to win games but I needed matches.
‘These days not many managers are willing to take a chance on a young centre half, you don’t really see it in football.
‘I think it’s important for young lads to go out there and get the games in, just to show that you can do it. I have done that now and I am ready for the next step.
‘I developed massively, people have said that to me, from the first game all the way up to my last.
‘It’s not anything in particular, it’s your all-round game, your awareness, heading, passing.
‘Even when you are tiring you still feel yourself improving every game.
‘You can only build on that and get better.
‘Some young lads in the Premier League and Championship are happy to sit in a reserve team or under-21 team – but for me you are not getting anything out of that.
‘You are playing in leagues where players aren’t interested, it’s tippy-tappy football. Any young player just needs to get out – even if it’s non-league football – just get out there and get the games in.
‘Managers look at you and think “he’s got a bit of experience in the league now and is ready”.
‘You get yourself onto the next step straight away.’
The towering defender is clearly relishing the Fratton Park challenge which lies ahead.
And he is convinced last year’s experience with the Shots can be priceless.
Bradley added: ‘I played nearly every game in this league last season.
‘I think I know what the league is about, I think I know how to deal with it.
‘And I think I’ve made the right choice in Portsmouth.’