The 16/17 squad – Where are they now?

Published: 31/01/2024
Recently, I’ve had a much quieter diary than usual and I’ve found myself watching some of the “Full Match Replays” that Pompey put on their YouTube channel around COVID. I was watching the 6-1 demolition of Cheltenham to win the League Two title, and it got me thinking about how it was such a varied squad. And I wondered – where did each member of that squad end up? Well, let me tell you, we’ve got everything from Europa League football to selling insurance.


So, kill a few minutes of your relentlessly mundane day at work and join me on a deep dive into the 2016/2017 title winning team. Where are they now?


Manager – Paul Cook


Cook left Fratton Park shortly after the unlikely title win, joining Wigan Athletic. He lead the Latics to the League One title in his first season, as well as an impressive run in the FA cup which included a 1-0 win over Guardiola’s Manchester City. He left Wigan after their points deduction lead to relegation to League One.


In March 2021, Paul Cook joined Ipswich Town with a view of turning their fortunes around. He was unsuccessful, however, and was sacked after just 9 months in charge. He is the second shortest-serving manager in Ipswich history. In 2022, he returned to Chesterfield in the National League where he remains to this day. His Spireites team currently sit 13 points clear at the top of the table, with two games in hand.



Goalkeeper – David Forde


Forde was already a veteran when he signed for the Blues on loan from Millwall, at 36 years old. He made 46 appearances for Pompey, and joined Cambridge United on a free transfer in the summer of 2017. He was released in 2019, and announced his retirement at age 39. Since retiring, David Forde has become a leadership and mentoring coach for Pathfinder coaching, who help businesses and sports organisations with team building exercises.



Right Back – Gareth Evans


Arguably one of the sexiest men to wear the famous blue and white, Gareth Evans joined Pompey from Fleetwood Town in the summer of 2015. Originally a winger, Evans would go on to play numerous positions for Pompey and become a fan favourite in the process.  Evans made 218 appearances for Portsmouth, scoring 39 goals and won both the League Two title and the EFL Trophy. Evans’ departure broke Pompey hearts, but it was the right move for both parties. He joined Bradford City, where he went on to make 137 appearances. The 35-year-old now plays in the Northern Premier for Radcliffe FC, who top the table at time of writing.



Centre Back – Christian Burgess


We all know this one right? Probably the most intelligent footballer on the planet, Burgess became a Blue in the summer of 2015, arriving from Peterborough United. He made 210 appearances for Pompey, across League One and Two, before his departure in 2020. To the surprise of literally everyone, Burgess joined Belgian Pro League (although then in the Belgian Second division) side Union Saint-Gilloise. He won promotion in his first full season, and has gone on to play in the Europa League, even beating Liverpool earlier this season.



Centre Back – Matt Clarke


Matt Clarke arrived in PO4 as part of the deal to sell Adam Webster to Ipswich Town. An incredible left-footed CB, and one of the best Pompey have had in recent memory. Clarke made 175 appearances for the Blues, before being sold to Brighton in the summer of 2019. Almost immediately, Clarke was loaned to Derby County and then again the following season. In 2021, Clarke spent the season on loan at West Brom before finally being sold to Middlesbrough, having not made a single appearance for the Seagulls. His time on Teeside has been plagued with injuries so far, but it appears he may finally be fit having featured recently in the League Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.



Left Back – Enda Stevens


Enda Stevens has openly admitted that he came to Portsmouth to revive his career. His time at Aston Villa had not gone as planned, and he viewed the opportunity on the South Coast as his final chance. Boy did he take. Stevens was electric at left-back for the Blues, and many were disappointed but understanding when he joined Sheffield United on a free transfer in the summer of 2017, immediately following promotion. Not only did he make 124 Championship appearances, he also played 68 Premier League for the Blades and showed he was clearly at that level. Last summer, aged 33, he joined Stoke City on a free transfer.



Centre Midfield – Danny Rose


Danny Rose joined Pompey from Northampton Town in the summer of 2016. The midfielder spent 2.5 years with the Blues, earning promotion to League One and making 64 appearances. In January 2019, he joined Swindon Town where he spent a further 1.5 years. He then joined Grimsby Town on a free transfer in August 2020, was loaned to Darlington in October 2021 and made that move permanent in 2022. A year later, he joined Cleethorpes Town FC, but retired just 4 months later.


Danny spent some time away from football, and was selling life insurance recently before joining Swindon Town as Lead YDP Coach.



Centre Midfield – Michael Doyle


Captain. Leader. Rock hard. Michael Doyle arrived on the South Coast in July 2015 from Sheffield United on a free transfer, and would go on to make 96 appearances in Blue and White. He left Pompey immediately after lifting the League Two trophy, joining Coventry on a free transfer then Notts County 2 years later. He retired in 2022, and actually came back to Portsmouth as a Professional Development Coach in June 2023, but in December was appointed First Team Manager of National League side Woking, where he remains to this day. At the time of writing, Doyle’s side sit 20th in the National League.



Right Wing – Carl Baker


Pompey’s number 7 arrived in the summer of 2016 and spent just one season on the South Coast, but managed to accrue an impressive 50 appearances for the Blues. Baker was originally looking to stay in Portsmouth, but quit after 2.5 months under Kenny Jackett as he labelled it “boring”. Speaking to The News Baker said ‘That Pompey dressing room under Cookie had the best team spirit of my 22 years as a footballer,’

‘Then, after the title win, it all fell apart – Kenny Jackett came in and the atmosphere changed.

‘It was like having one nan who, when visiting, you’d have a cup of tea and no-one speaks. Then you’d go to your other nan and the house is bouncing with all kinds going on.

‘Cookie was a big, big character, while Kenny was the total opposite. Cookie was really loud, in your face, he’d have a laugh with you, he’d give out a rollicking, he had a bit of a split personality.

‘Whereas Kenny, a really nice fella, sat in his office and you wouldn’t see or speak to him. I never really talked to him other than “Morning Gaffer”, then that was it for the rest of the day”


But what a journey the now-41-year-old has been on since his departure. He first joined Indian Super League side ATK, managed at the time by former-Pompey man Teddy Sheringham in September 2017, but an Achilles injury meant he never made an appearance for the West Bengal side. Between 2018 and 2023, Baker played for Coventry, Nuneaton, Brackley, Telford United and Quorn before retiring in 2023. Baker spends a lot of time playing golf, and documenting his journey over on X.



Attacking Midfield – Kal Naismith


Kal Naismith is a fascinating case. Joining the Blues in 2015 from Accrington Stanley, the Scotsman was originally sent on a short-term loan to Hartlepool. He then came back and established himself in the first-team, and became Pompey top-scorer for the title winning season. He then followed manager Paul Cook to Wigan, before joining Luton in January 2021. Whilst at Luton, Naismith completely changed positions, going from a striker/winger to a centre back. He established himself in the Championship, and then joined Bristol City in 2022 where he remains to this day. No plans to suddenly become a goalkeeper, or kitman as far as we are aware.



Left Wing – Kyle Bennett


Kyle Bennett was the type of player who either single-handedly changed the game, or didn’t exist at all. There was no middle ground for the winger. Arriving in the summer of 2015 from Doncaster, Bennett scored twice on his debut and set the bar high. He played 117 games for the Blues, but departed on deadline day of the 2018 January Transfer window to Bristol Rovers. Loans at Swindon Town and Grimsby Town were followed by a free transfer to Telford United in 2021.. From Telford he went to Hednesford, then Stratford Town before joining Shifnal Town in July of 2023. Shifnal Town compete in the Midland Football League, and 33-year-old Bennett is a first-team regular.



Striker – Conor Chaplin


This one hurts. This one really hurts. Conor Chaplin came through the academy at Portsmouth, making his league debut in December 2014 against Accrington Stanley. He went on to make 122 appearances for his hometown club, and scored 25 goals. In January 2019, Chaplin was sold by Kenny Jackett to Coventry City. Cheers, Ken.


He only made 32 appearances for the Sky Blues, before heading to Barnsley. 86 games later, and Ipswich Town snapped him up. He was an integral part of taking Ipswich to the Championship, having scored 35 goals in 84 games for the Tractor Boys across the two seasons. He’s now a Championship regular, having scored 9 goals in 28 games this season, and we can only look up and cry. We love you Conor. Please come home.



Subs bench – Liam O’Brien (GK)


Liam O’Brien actually originally joined in 2008 at the age of 17 from QPR but was released as Pompey were going through financial meltdown. He rejoined the club in 2016 as backup to David Forde, and spent a year warming the bench. After Pompey, it was pretty much yearly moves for the keeper. He went to Coventry, then Yeovil, Stratford Town and now plays for Bedworth United. He also offers training sessions for £25 a night with the club, and is a UEFA GK Coach.



Subs bench – Jack Whatmough


Another academy graduate that has gone on to relative success. Whatmough was born in Gosport, and made 136 first-team appearances for Pompey. His time at the club was plagued by serious knee injuries, which resulted in the club only offering him a one-year deal in 2021. Jack instead decided to join Wigan Athletic and won the League One title. After playing a full season in the Championship for the Latics, Whatmough left on a free to join Preston North End in August 2023. He’s made 15 appearances so far this season.



Subs bench – Amine Linganzi


Remember Amine Linganzi?! Wow. We really did have a mixed bag this season didn’t we? Linganzi arrived in 2016 from French side Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël FC. He made 23 appearances for Pompey, before departing in 2017. He joined Swindon Town on a free, but left a year later. He was without a club for the first half of the 18/19 season, before Salford City picked him up. He departed later that same season, and retired. He was, however, training with 𝗔𝗦 𝗔𝗶𝘅-𝗲𝗻-𝗣𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲



Subs bench – Stanley Aborah


That’s right. Stanley Aborah was a Portsmouth player for about 5 minutes. Joining on a free transfer in February 2017 following his Notts County release, Aborah was gone just 4 months later having made just 4 appearances. He has more appearances for Ajax than for Portsmouth. AJAX!!! He was in limbo for a while, with Cook keeping him hanging before Jackett ultimately decided he wasn’t right moving forward. He joined Waterford in Ireland a few months later, before retiring in 2019.



Subs bench – Gary Roberts


What an absolute baller this man was. I still think the goal against Barnet is one of the best in recent history at Fratton and I will die on that hill. Roberts was Cook’s man through and through, arriving with the gaffer from Chesterfield and following him to Wigan. Roberts then joined Welsh club Bala before a brief stint at Accrington Stanley. Roberts retired in 2021, and is now a part of the Chesterfield coaching staff. You guessed it, with Paul Cook.



Subs bench – Jamal Lowe


Nonchalant. Fantastic. Brilliant. Jamal Lowe arrived at Portsmouth from non-league side Hampton & Richmond in January 2017. He was reportedly also a car salesman at the time, with Pompey offering the youngster a chance at professional football again. Boy did he seize that chance. Scoring twice against Notts County to confirm Pompey’s promotion to League One, a spectacular lob over the Sunderland goalkeeper at Wembley on the way to winning the EFL Trophy, Lowe has been a crucial part in recent Pompey history. He joined Wigan in August 2019, before moving to Swansea in 2020. Then a move back down South as Lowe joined Bournemouth in 2021, and was loaned to QPR in January 2023. He was again loaned out, this time back to Swansea this season.


A player who has featured in all of the top 4 divisions since joining Pompey. From car salesman to Premier League player. What a journey. Let’s hope he can finally settle.



Subs bench – Nicke Kabamba


Kabamba joined Portsmouth alongside Jamal Lowe from Hampton & Richmond, but unfortunately struggled to make a significant impact. He made just six appearances in Blue and White, for a total of 169 minutes. He was loaned to Aldershot during his time at Pompey, before a free transfer to Havant & Waterlooville. He bounced between Havant and Hartlepool in loan deals before making the switch permanent, before joining Scottish side Kilmarnock in January 2020. A free transfer to Northampton followed, before joining Barnet in 2022. Kabamba, now 30, has been prolific in the National League. This season he has 19 goals in 30 games, and overall he’s bagged 39 goals in 79 games for the Bees.


Hope you enjoyed that little trip down memory lane. A polite reminder, Stevenage and Doncaster did the double over us. Notts County, Exeter and Crewe also left Fratton Park with 3 points. Blackpool smashed us 3-1 on the road. And we still won the league with 87 points.


One game does not define a season. Believe in Mousinho. This is our year. Up the Blues.