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Atkinson: ‘League Cup Retention is a Statement of Intent'

Portsmouth’s EAFA League Cup win is a ‘statement of intent’ for the season ahead says their goalkeeper Thomas Atkinson (pictured).

Pompey wrapped up back-to-back successes in the League Cup after beating Everton 5-4 on penalties in the semis, before proving too strong for Arsenal in the final with a 4-0 win.

19-year-old shot stopper Atkinson saved the all-important penalty in the shoot-out against Everton, and never felt any pressure in the big moment.

He said: “I enjoy the chance of getting to prove myself in those situations more than anything, and I always back my ability, so I thrive when stuff like that happens in matches.

“There’s no doubt about it that we made it difficult for ourselves in the semi-final game, going from 2-0 up to then conceding a late goal to send us to that shoot-out and our game management is something that we need to work on.

“Once we got over that shoot-out there was no issues in the final.”

Atkinson was also handed the captains armband for his side’s clash with the Gunners, he added: “I only got made captain on the spot really, because everyone lost their composure in that semi-final, and I was the one trying to keep the team calm.

“The feeling I got lifting that trophy was just brilliant though, and now I’ve had a taste of what success tastes like again I want us to go on and win everything there is to win out there now.”

This season the south coast side will get the opportunity to compete in the Amputee Champions League, after winning the league last campaign.

Portsmouth lift the 2022 League Title

The teenager is excited at the prospect that they’ll be able to test themselves against Europe’s best, and can’t wait to get started.

“I’m just really honoured to be able to play in the tournament,” Atkinson admitted.

“To take on teams such as the champions of Europe is something that you definitely can’t take it for granted because not many people can say they’ve played in it.

“Once we know when it’s taking place and who’s in our groups, then we can start to look towards getting prepared to take part in it, but until then the focus is on the domestic action.”

Atkinson started his career out at Newcastle, making his debut for the club at the age of 15, before making a permanent switch to Portsmouth in the summer.

His new team went on to complete a domestic treble in 2022 (Premiership, Premiership Play-Off, Premiership League Cup), while Atkinson also got the chance to pull on the England jersey in the Amputee Football World Cup last October.

Atkinson pictured during England’s last 16 game vs Angola at the WAFF World Cup

England head coach, Scott Rogers’ has named the Cumbrian in his provisional 16-man squad for the upcoming year, and Atkinson is fully focused on making that number one shirt his.

“The whole year is really exciting, and it feels like a fresh start this season with a new coach in charge of the international set-up,” he said.

“Before the World Cup I was probably the number two goalkeeper, but I managed to play in some important games at that tournament so I’m hoping to make that number one spot mine.

“There’s some really strong competition for it though, which makes me a better player, and just getting the chance to represent your country feels like a massive achievement for a person of my age.”

The next round of league games take place on April 22, with Portsmouth looking to keep up their unbeaten start to the season which saw them win their opening two matches in February’s fixtures.


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