A FRACTURED back almost ensured it was over before it even began for Adam Barton.
Then there were those national newspaper claims that Liverpool were contemplating a £5m swoop.
Regardless of that non-event, the midfielder has still managed to represent two countries in international football.
Still only 24, Barton’s roller-coaster career has now brought him to Fratton Park.
A player who has battled back from the brink to impress with Preston North End and Coventry is one of eight summer recruits by Paul Cook.
And the determined Blackburn-born player is eager to show he can once again scale the heights.
I thought I wasn’t going to play again, I kept thinking “All this pain can’t be right, I can’t play on this”. They were hard timesAdam Barton
‘I was a trainee with Blackburn Rovers and fractured my lower back on both sides, putting me out for a year,’ said Barton.
‘I thought I was on the verge of getting a youth-team contract but, obviously, I then wasn’t handed one.
‘I didn’t know about the fracture until three or four months after I did it, I just thought it was back pain and growing issues so carried on. When the pain continued I stopped.
‘They told me it was caused by a big growth spurt, while at the time I was doing a lot of weights.
‘You put them both together and it didn’t really go well with my back.
‘I thought I wasn’t going to play again, I kept thinking: “All this pain can’t be right, I can’t play on this”. They were hard times.
‘The manager of Preston at the time was Paul Simpson. I used to play with his son Jake at school so he had seen me play and signed me injured as a youth-team player.
‘He got his physios to look at my back again, they took me for scans and the fracture is what came up. Once we found out what it was you could look after it.
‘I came through the youth team at Preston and made my debut at 19 under Darren Ferguson in the Championship, and then went from there.
‘I was doing well in the Championship, and with all the big clubs looking at young lads coming through there was that link with Liverpool.
‘It was in the papers and on websites, but there wasn’t anything in the pipeline, it was just rumours.
‘Then in February 2012 I broke my ankle in a bad tackle against Walsall and ended up signing for Coventry when injured.
‘It has been weird, but I always come back. So fingers crossed there is nothing else down the line for me and I can start producing my best for Portsmouth.’
Barton signed for the Blues on a two-year deal following his release from Coventry.
A player who has also played for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
He added: ‘At Preston I was put in touch with Northern Ireland, who I qualified through one of my grandads, and played in a friendly against Morocco as a 19-year-old.
‘Then Alan Kelly, who was the goalkeeping coach at the Republic of Ireland and also linked with Preston, got me to go to them. So I went and played five times for their under-21s, which was good.’