Benjani speaks during latest visit at Portsmouth

Watch as Benjani returns to Fratton Park to talk about his time as a player at Portsmouth.

Fratton Park

Benji, for a man that never scored in the first 14 games at Pompey people and fans stayed with you didn’t they?

Benjani

Yeah, that’s why when I come back here its a special place for me. The fact that they accepted me when I didn’t score but through my working hard and we were like close with them so…

Fratton Park

People actually willed you, thats why in the end, because they could see your effort they willed you to put the ball in the net.

Benjani

That’s why every time when I was playing here, even that song, you know when they were singing,  even just before game, it was motivating me and even if I didn’t score, I could work hard. You know, that’s why I always say when I come back here it reminds me some good good memories.

Fratton Park

When the game mounted up and you weren’t scoring. Did you ever feel any pressure?

Benjani

I didn’t feel any pressure at all. You know, sometimes if the fans are behind you, you don’t feel the pressure. You can only feel the pressure when the fans are not behind you when they’re booing you, whatsoever. But here, it was at home. So..

Fratton Park

Because it was a disastrous start for the team. You played your debut against Everton and we lost one nil. Yeah, then we lost the Birmingham five nil.  Then we hardly scored in the next seven or eight games. Did you think at that stage, what have I got myself into?

Benjani

At some point? I did think that but, we were like seven, eight new players. You know if you bring seven eight players, you need the players to gel. But at that time, we’re still finding the good tune, the good rhythm. So it took so long but at the end it helped.

Fratton Park

Was the game against Manchester City even though you didn’t score the famous Pen Pedro Mendez game? Was that the weight off everybody shoulders?

Benjani

Yeah. That was changing of everything you know? And even if I’m thinking about my coming here at Portsmouth, that game changed a lot you know from that game. I think we went about eight to nine games without losing

Fratton Park

For all your lack of goals when it did come. It was in the most vital game and the most vital goal.

Benjani

That was a relief. You know, but to me, as I said before that I was always comfortable here. They were cheering me regardless, I wasn’t scoring. So when I scored, I only realized it after when I was like, Oh, we survived. You know? Like,

Fratton Park

Can you remember the feeling on scoring the goal? What was the feeling on actually putting it in the net?

Benjani

At that moment? I didn’t have that great feeling because we were one down and we needed a win. So in my mind I was like, let’s go back and get another goal. And then we did get another goal and we won the game.

Fratton Park

So what’s the feeling then at the end of the game?

Benjani

At the end of the game? It was a bit tricky. Remember? Birmingham, they were meant to win as well. They were paying Newcastle and we wanted them to draw or lose and at that moment there was still play. So we were standing in the pitch I saw even the coach Harry was like asking Peters Story in the grounds ? then,  I saw the thumbs up like this. Everyone just went crazy.

Fratton Park

Yeah. Is it the best feeling you’ve had in football?

Benjani

I think so. You know, when I was thinking that challenge to survive was over at some point. You know, when we’re losing and we losing without even scoring a goal. You go seven games. Without a win. We’ll be like, Oh, we gone down. But the fighting spirit the team were together the team spirity everyone was like we’re heading in the in the in the good direction.

Fratton Park

Following season was a different ballgame and you scored two hattricks, tell us a bit about what it was like to play in the most magnificent match against Reading where there are 11 goals.

Benjani

In that game, Reading were playing so well. I remember so very well that the Gaffer said to us you know today we need to be compacting the midfield and let Benji make them rounds up. If we get a chance we nick it. And then at the end of the game, who were we 7- 4 It was an extraordinary game.

Fratton Park

It was the most incredible football match that you’ve ever played?

Benjani

The other one was when I was  still in Zimbabwe, like in the juniors  that’s when we could score like you know 7 – 4 or 8 – 2 You know. It is still today the world record. I came here to do some interviews. And I came here specially for that game, you know, on the 14th of September. It was exactly 14 years since we won 7-4,  no and broke that record until now.

Fratton Park

And he scored another hattrick vs Derby but you know, goal scoring in there then wasn’t a problem for you was it?

Benjani

You know, they always say hard work pays. You know, I worked hard for those goals. You know, they were not coming. I kept on working. I kept on working. So when I was scoring, you’ll be like whoa, now it’s easy. You know, sometimes when you don’t score you feel like you’re playing a different sport, but you need to be dedicated and to work hard and concentrate, you know, goals will come

Fratton Park

When you came to Pompey was Harry one of the reasons you came.

Benjani

Yeah, he’s the one that you inquired about me. So when I came, it was him who bought me.

Fratton Park

Did you know a lot about Portsmouth at that time?

Benjani

Not at all. Not really. But the fact that they were in the Premier League, you know, I could see the shorts when I was watching when I was in France, but I didn’t like follow them at that time…

Fratton Park

How do you think back now, when you all these years later about your time at Pompey? It was it one of the best?

Benjani

It was one of the best, though I started slowly but at the end as you know, the transfer to go to Man City,  it came in January and I wasn’t prepared and I was there scoring for fun, you know, and I hoped if I didn’t go to Man City, at that time, I could score more goals for Pompey.

Fratton Park

There’s a lot of rumors go on about that transfer. Just put it straight about the plane and you didn’t miss it.

Benjani

No, I didn’t miss the plane. The problem at that time it was the plane was delayed. That was for sure you know sometimes if you tell people that the plane is delayed is not the good way to say is like if it was delayed Why didn’t take a train or something you know? So it was a way of getting around it. You know, when they say he didn’t want to go and you missed their plane and they missed another one we need we have to force him so it wasn’t the story?

Fratton Park

Well, that’s an interesting question. Did you actually want to go to Manchester City

Benjani

At that point? I always explained this. At that time. That deal came late. Even myself I thought maybe they were just testing me whether I loved it here or not. Because remember, we played Manchester United in Manchester. And then the next day it was the deadline day,  so if it was meant before that time, I was supposed to stay over in Manchester, and then we flew the next morning. I’m supposed to go to Manchester again. So I thought they were testing me, that’s why I said I want to stay.

Fratton Park

Anyway, you turn up at Manchester City. What a dream debut, you’re back at Old Trafford and you score a goal in Manchester Derby and you win…

Benjani

When I went there, I didn’t know about the derby , sometimes you can follow a team and not really know about the derby, how important the Derby was and when the journalists asked me, Benji , congratulation, you have scored a winning goal here in Old Trafford. It’s been 36 years Man City without winning here. So you have made it , How are you feeling? I was shocked.

Fratton Park
What was it like to play in the Manchester derby?

Benjani

Yeah, it was amazing. You know, the hype before the game , a week before you know you can feel that it’s a big game. Yeah, It’s just like here you know, when you play like Southampton, you know,  the day before, the policeman walking around. To make sure everything is safe.

Fratton Park

What’s the difference between Pompey Southampton derby and a Manchester derby?

Benjani
I guess Manchester derby is bigger. In terms of fans as well, you know, here is about 18,000 , there when you play at Old Trafford its 76,000 people even in the seats, you know, people they go crazy, but if you compare them, that one’s a little bit bigger, but the fans here they can be better than even if they are few here, you know, and that’s why I always loved it here. You know, when the fans even if sometimes were to 2 – 0 down, they were like, singing and supporting us. You know, that’s why all the time when I come here, that’s why I say this is a special place for me.

Fratton Park
Now you came back to Pompey and it was a totally different club. By the time you’d come back, they’d fallen down into the championship, was it? Do you regret coming back?

Benjani
Not at all, you know, as I always saying that, I think I’ve said it like three or four times, that this is a special place for me.  It’s just like when you go back home, when I go back home in Zimbabwe, even if he’s terrible whatsoever. I have that feeling that I’m going home.

Fratton Park
Benji, you’re in the legends round, and it’s safe to say I think we all say you’re a Pompey legend. Yeah, thank you very much.

Benjani
You are Welcome