Harry Redknapp’s record signing of former Rennes striker John Utaka, reportedly costing Pompey in the region of £8m has paid off so far.
Utaka has scored two goals and has helped set up two others. Pompey’s emphatic win over Bolton was sealed when Utaka turned the jets on midfield and outran the Bolton defenders, slotting the ball past Jaaskelainen. Earlier, Utaka in a nice bit of ball control, deflected a pass onto Nwankwo Kanu, who opened his season’s scoring, making it a Nigerian one-two.
Utaka has had a long trek before moving to the Premiership, his career began in 1995 with hometown club Rangers Club of Enugu before moving onto Egyptian club Ismaili. He helped them reach the CAF final in 2000. He also played for Al Sadd in Qatar helping them to reach the semi-final of the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup in 2002.
His big European break came when he joined up Ligue 1 club Lens on a reported $2m transfer. His Lens stay was fairly unspectacular and in the three years he only scored eight goals. His career really took off when he moved to Rennes and replaced injured Swiss forward. In February 2006 he scored two consecutive hat-tricks against his former club Lens and Lyon. It made the headlines and put him firmly up in the transfer market.
More specifically he became Harry Redknapp’s target. He and Preston North End forward David Nugent joined the club this summer and Pompey has looked very good so far winning two and forcing a huge draw against Man Utd.