RONAN Curtis believes he must 'earn the right' to play for Portsmouth Football Club but insists he's ready for the challenge after officially completing his move to Fratton Park on Saturday!
The 22 year-old striker ended his four year association with Derry City in Dublin on Friday night as he signed off with a 2-1 victory over Bohemians at Dalymount Park.
He flew to London and travelled down to Portsmouth the following day to complete his two-year deal on the opening of the international transfer window and will embark on his new career in League One with Pompey under the stewardship of Kenny Jackett later this month.
The Republic of Ireland U21 international will have a few well deserved weeks off before reporting for duty with the Blues for pre-season training on June 27th ahead of a return to Ireland as part of the club's preparations which involve a friendly fixture against a familiar foe for Curtis - League of Ireland champions, Cork City.
Curtis bid farewell to the League of Ireland at Dalymount Park on Friday night and could've signed off with a ninth goal of the season but was forced wide by Bohs' keeper, Shane Supple late on when he broke through on goal.
Nevertheless he was delighted to play his part in a much needed victory for the Candy Stripes and admitted it was an 'emotional' send-off from the visiting support who unveiled their 'Good Luck Ronan' banner at the front of the Jodi Stand.
"It was an emotional one," he admitted. "Leading up to the last week it was emotional but like every young player wants to do I want to go across the water and forward my career but it was really emotional and I'm just glad to get the three points tonight."
No one can question his commitment to the Derry City cause since signing his pre-contract agreement with the 2008 FA Cup winners at the end of May and he's fully aware he must step up his game to ensure he makes it in League One.
"I've worked my socks off every game and every game I've played for Derry that's all I wanted to do was give 120 per cent and that's how I got my move from working hard and playing good," he said.
He's netted eight times this season, largely from a wide position on the left side but he should've added to that tally to ensure a memorable swansong.
"I had a great chance at the end there I could've made it 3-1 but I scored the other night so I'm really happy and confidence is flying and I'm just glad we got won the game 2-1 and got the three points because we needed that badly."
The passionate forward was involved in an unsavoury incident at the final whistle as he became embroiled in a fracas with Bohemians goalkeeper, Supple and midfielder Dylan Watts after applauding both sets of supporters on his way towards the changing rooms.
Curtis, who scored the winning goal on Derry's last visit to the venue, had to be restrained by City assistant boss, Hugh Harkin while a Derry City fan also made his way on to the pitch but the stewards quickly resolved the heated confrontation and the match officials took no further action.
The incident failed to dampen the spirits of Curtis who was delighted to help City return to winning ways after a three game losing run.
And asked what his abiding memory of playing for Derry was, Curtis, who represented the club in the UEFA Europa League qualifiers, couldn't single out any particular moment and claimed he will 'always be a Derry City player in my heart' while promising not to be a stranger at Brandywell Stadium..
"There's a lot of great memories and moments at this club. The staff, the fans and all the players have been absolutely amazing towards me and I just can't thank Kenny Shiels and his backroom staff enough for everything they've done for me.
"Every moment has been the best. I've been lucky enough to play for Derry. Hopefully we get top three at the end of this season. We're around the top and hopefully we can kick on with another couple of wins while I'm away. I'll always be a Derry City player in my heart and I'll be coming back to watch them sometimes.
"I'm really excited (about joining Portsmouth) now and can't until August when the start of the season comes and hopefully I get my head down, train hard and earn the right to play for Portsmouth," he added.