KAL NAISMITH has lifted the lid on the tragedy behind his Pompey move.
The Blues’ new signing has revealed how the heart-rending death of his girlfriend prompted his switch to Fratton Park.
She would never have felt sorry for herself or anything like that. She was just a normal girl.Kal Naismith
And Naismith has told how he is now looking to rebuild his life, as he comes to terms with the loss of his partner.
The 23-year-old’s world was turned upside down last October, when Ashley Dickson died suddenly from an epileptic seizure in Glasgow.
Naismith was with Accrington Stanley when he was informed of the horrific news, sending him into a tailspin of depression as he mourned for his childhood sweetheart and girlfriend of eight years.
A month away from football failed to numb the pain and, inevitably, form and morale was affected on the attacking talent’s return to action.
Try as he might, Naismith couldn’t shake an association with the club where such harrowing news was delivered to him.
That paved the way for the offer of a new beginning at Pompey – one he was thankful for.
‘The chance of new start does appeal, lots,’ said the man whose signing was announced at the end of last month.
‘I went through some hardship last year with the loss, so I was looking for a new place to start.
‘I had some hard times afterwards, and it was hard going back to the training ground every day where I heard that bad news.
‘I obviously got on with it, but I needed that fresh start to help my focus and get my focus back on football.
‘That’s what Portsmouth have offered me.’
Naismith has spoken fleetingly of the seismic impact the death of Ashley has had on his life since it took place.
A poignant message on Twitter summed up his pain as he wrote: ‘Ashley I miss you like crazy I would give anything in the world to be able to cuddle you. You’ll always be mine and I’ll always be yours.’
Despite an obvious agony at what has taken place, the passing months have afforded Naismith the time to now be able to reflect publicly on the character his girlfriend was.
The cruelty of a life being taken so prematurely at the age of 22 is palpable, but so is a strong desire from the former Glasgow Rangers trainee to portray her as any other young person enjoying her existence.
Ashley had to deal with her epilepsy throughout life, but any notion she was different in any way is passionately rejected by Naismith.
And that’s how Ashley would have wanted it.
‘She was never unwell,’ Naismith emphatically asserts.
‘She never classed herself as being unwell, or any different to anyone else. She wasn’t.
‘It was a bit of illness - that was the way she looked at it.
‘It was epilepsy. She had it for a long time.
‘It was a seizure which she had.
‘But she was the exact same as anyone else and would never have classed herself as ill.
‘She would never have felt sorry for herself or anything like that. She was just a normal girl.’
His final months at Accrington were inextricably linked with the pain Naismith was suffering, as the mourning continued.
But there is an appreciation for the support the Lancashire club afforded the former Scottish age-group international.
Naismith said: ‘They were great after it happened. They never treated me too differently to before when I went back. That was important.
‘If they started treating me too nicey nice it would have been false.
‘They treated me the same as the rest, but at the same time gave me the time I needed.
‘I’m thankful to them for that.
‘I’ve got a lot of amazing memories at Accrington and I will always be appreciative to the club.
‘I can’t say enough about the club. I met some amazing and really great people, but I just needed a new place to go.’
The prospect of a relocation to Portsmouth is one which will be embraced by Naismith ahead of a return to pre-season training later this month.
Paul Cook’s ambition and faith in the talent he possesses were immediately apparent to the player.
Just how highly the Pompey manager rated him could be seen in the fact a fee was paid for his services and a three-year contract was handed to him – a rarity at League Two level.
Naismith will now look to repay the conviction shown in him – and is thankful for being handed the new opportunity he needs.
‘I know a lot of the lads from Accrington who worked with the gaffer and speak very highly of him,’ said Naismith.
‘When I met him he impressed me. Just the way he spoke to me and speaks about the game.
‘The coaches seemed like good guys, and the way they want to play the game is the same as I want to.
‘I’m delighted to come down and play for them.
‘Everything the gaffer likes to do and the way he speaks about the game works with me.
‘He’s shown faith, and I appreciate what he’s done for me.’
So Naismith will now allow himself to begin looking forward once again when he arrives in his new surroundings.
His determination to ensure his girlfriend’s memory lives on means he will never forget the past and, undoubtedly, his loss will remain a defining moment in the Scotsman’s life.
But now he is able to see a path forward in Portsmouth, a place where he will look to create happy memories.
‘It’s all happened so quickly,’ Naismith admitted, as he reflected on recent events, while casting an eye forward.
‘I can’t wait to get down and get organised now.
‘I want to get myself into a flat before the start of the season.
‘I’m sure there’ll be people at Portsmouth who will be able to help me settle in.
‘I’ll look forward to the first day of pre-season and going in and getting to know the boys.
‘Now I want to win the league here, and it’s all in place to make that happen.
‘I’m looking for that new start.’