Portsmouth’s first game in the Premier League couldn’t have gone much better. A 2-1 win over Aston Villa was followed by a good away point at Manchester City, before a 4-0 win over Bolton briefly put Pompey top of the league.
Harry Redknapp’s side were favourites to be relegated. After their good start, they struggled badly, slumping into the relegation zone in March after a horrendous run of four wins in 25 games. One defeat in their last 10 however, ensured comfortable survival for Portsmouth, eventually finishing in 13th on 45 points.
Here are the starting XI and subs who were part of that historic opening day…
Part of Division 1’s Team of the Year in Portsmouth’s promotion season, Hislop resisted stiff competition to remain their No.1 throughout the 2003/04 season. Image Source: Twitter
Despite a bright start to his Portsmouth career, a well-publicised fallout with Harry Redknapp led to Zivkovic walking out on the club in December, having made just 18 appearances. Image Source: Getty Images
Foxe was a regular in the side through the first half of the season. Sadly, he never fully recovered from a foot injury sustained during the Christmas period. Image Source: Twitter
Arjan De Zeeuw
Played a crucial role in getting Portsmouth to the Premier League, and kicked on from there. He ended the 2003/04 season as Portsmouth Player of the Year. Image Source: Twitter
Arguably Portsmouth’s signing of the season. Signed in the summer for £1.85 million, the defender acclimatised himself to the South Coast quickly and soon became a fan favourite. Image Source: Twitter
The current Norwich City Managing Director battled through continual injury concerns to be a key winger in Portsmouth’s first season in the Premier League. Image Source: Twitter
Signed in the summer from Auxerre for £1.5 million, Faye was meant to be the defensive midfield rock in the side. Sadly, a knee injury meant that he missed a large chunk of the season. Image Source: Twitter
Quashie was another player who suffered from injuries throughout the season, but still proved to be a great bargain buy for £600,000 back in 2000 from Nottingham Forest. Image Source: Twitter
A superb free signing by Harry Redknapp from Liverpool. Berger was arguably Portsmouth’s best player until he was struck down by injury in February, missing the rest of the season. Image Source: Twitter
Had the honour of scoring Portsmouth’s first ever Premier League goal and became the oldest Premier League hat-trick scorer a couple of weeks later. Image Source: Twitter
The Yak is a Portsmouth favourite. The big striker scored 16 goals, including 11 in his last 10 Premier League games to keep Pompey up despite going to the African Cup of Nations. Image Source: Twitter
SUB: Harald Wapenaar
Wapenaar had a nightmare time at Portsmouth. Signed to compete with Hislop for the No.1 role, the Dutchman slowly drifted down the pecking order, making just five league appearances. Image Source: Twitter
SUB: Sebastien Schemmel
Known by past managers for his “phenomenal instability”, Schemmel had a huge amount of talent but often struggled to show it. Played just 12 times for Portsmouth. Image Source: Twitter
SUB: Deon Burton
A £250,000 buy from Derby in 2002, Burton was a flop at Portsmouth. After just one Premier League appearance, he was loaned out and never played for Pompey again. Image Source: Sporting Heroes
SUB: Gary O’Neil
Then a promising youngster, O’Neil was soon loaned out to Walsall, but after impressing there, came back and started for Portsmouth in the league whilst the team had injury problems. Image Source: Twitter
SUB: Vincent Pericard
Started the season well but soon suffered thigh, and then cruciate ligament injuries that sadly led to the decline of a once highly-touted young striker. Image Source: Twitter
Portsmouth took the Premier League by storm largely thanks to the millions of Milan Mandaric. Mandaric established the club as a stable mid-table side before selling Pompey in 2006. Sadly it was under new ownership where things went badly wrong. High, unsustainable spending led to initial success culminating in an FA Cup victory in 2008, but soon after the club fell into administration, and almost out of business as they plummeted down to League Two.
After a painful four seasons in the fourth tier, Portsmouth won the title last year much to their dedicated, but long-suffering fanbase. With a takeover well on track, can Portsmouth get back to the heady heights of these unlikely heroes? It will be fascinating to find out.