Pompey midfielder’s emotional tribute

Nigel Atangana dedicates his goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
Nigel Atangana dedicates his goal. Picture: Joe Pepler

Nigel Atangana has revealed the pain behind his best moment in football.

The Pompey midfielder struck his first goal for the club on his recall to the side with a spectacular equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Cheltenham.

But the Frenchman dedicated the goal to the memory of his former school friend, Aurelia Taton, who was tragically killed in a car crash in Caen last weekend aged just 26.

Atangana said: ‘I lost a very good friend last week.

‘She died in a car crash on Sunday night. She was a school friend of mine and would always call me after games to ask me whether I had played or scored.

‘I scored in a reserve game on Tuesday and again in this game and so they are for her. She was a beautiful person.

‘When you score, you feel like a hero.

‘It was a great feeling and my best moment in football but I scored it for my friend.’

In a surprise selection by Blues boss Andy Awford, the 25-year-old was given an advanced role in a revamped formation.

That saw him operate behind lone striker, Ryan Taylor, but ahead of central midfield pair Marcus Bean and Danny Hollands.

And Atangana feels he can adapt well to the new position if he is given the chance of an extended run.

He said: ‘I haven’t played in that position very often. It’s a new role for me.

‘I played in the number 10 position when I was 12 or 13 years old back in France.

‘It’s different because I don’t think like a striker – I think like a midfielder.

‘I think I would need a few games but I learn very quickly.

‘If I play in the same position for the next game, I will try to do the same thing again.

‘It gave me confidence when I scored in the reserve game during the week and I played in the same position. I think it can work. I enjoyed it.’

Atangana was plucked from non-league football in the summer after impressing Awford with his performances for the Hawks last season.

But he admitted his goal has now given him extra belief he belongs in the professional ranks.

Atangana said: ‘I have already learned so much coming to England to play football.

‘I learnt a lot with Havant and now I have learnt even more at Portsmouth.

‘But to score a goal like this makes me feel like I am a professional footballer now.

‘To score in the Football League is unbelievable. But now I want to score more goals. I think it will make me more confident as well.’

The Blues star admitted there was a tinge of disappointment Pompey had not gone on to win but he believes it will set the team up for the Christmas period.

He said: ‘Maybe there is some frustration we haven’t won the game but it’s not a bad result.

‘Now we need some points over the Christmas period.’

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Video: Andy Awford’s post-match comments

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