Starlet pinching himself after whirlwind season

Six months on from his Pompey breakthrough, he's back for pre-season tests.
Jed Wallace, left, celebrates scoring for Pompey against Coventry in MarchJed Wallace, left, celebrates scoring for Pompey against Coventry in March
Jed Wallace, left, celebrates scoring for Pompey against Coventry in March

But the Blues staff may have a job pulling Jed Wallace down from the clouds as he’s put through his paces at University of Winchester.

January 1, 2013 was the day the dream of becoming a Football League player became a reality for the 19-year-old.

And he hasn’t looked back since.

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Twenty two league appearances and six goals later, Wallace is seen as one of the brightest prospects in English football’s lower tiers.

A number of clubs are keeping tabs on the player, as the midfielder is linked with a move away from Fratton Park this summer.

Wallace has made it clear he is committed to Pompey’s cause on more than one occasion, although boss Guy Whittingham remains unsure if he will be staying put.

It’s all a far cry from Wallace playing his football in the Ryman League, where he was on loan at Whitehawk until the end of last year.

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Now he returns for full pre-season training next week as an England under-19 international and established first-team player with the Blues.

Wallace portrays a confident figure but admitted he could never have dreamed he would be where he is now 12 months ago.

He said: ‘I’m a confident person but I’m also honest.

‘I remember watching the Bournemouth game at the start of last season and thinking I was miles away from it.

‘We played against Brighton in pre-season last year and I ran after people for 45 minutes, and didn’t touch the ball.

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‘But I went to Whitehawk, played some football and came back.

‘Then I watched the Yeovil game at the end of last year and felt I could really do a job for the side.

‘Luckily, I managed to get in the team, play well and get some goals.

‘It’s been a mad year and I then got the England call-up – I’m just waiting for something bad to happen!

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‘I can’t believe it’s happened. I’ve not been in a bad mood in six months!’

A 19-minute outing in a 5-0 New Year’s Day defeat at Swindon was an inauspicious start to Wallace’s time in League football.

But then came two goals in three games against Hartlepool and Colchester to underline his position as a midfielder with a goal threat in his locker.

That was in the midst of Pompey’s 23-game winless run, which finally came to an end at Crewe and prompted positive end-of-season form.

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The highlight of that came for Wallace – and most Pompey fans – when Sheffield United were defeated at Fratton Park in front of 18,433 fans as Pompey Supporters’ Trust completed their takeover.

Wallace, who joined Pompey Academy from Lewes in 2011, said: ‘The Sheffield United game and the Hartlepool game when I scored my first goal were my highlights.

‘I felt so ready to play for so long.

‘Then I went on loan, came back and I was on fire in training under Michael Appleton.

‘I thought I was going to get my chance but had to stay patient and keep my head down.

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‘Then I played and scored and it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

‘My mum was crying her eyes out when I scored against Hartlepool and my dad was laughing at her!

‘But it felt that I was finally showing people what I could do.’