Homecoming: John Pantsil set for Fulham return

Former Ghana international John Panstsil is ready to feature in the All Star Charity match next Saturday at Craven Cottage – a place he recognises as his ‘second home.’

The Ghana international joined Fulham from West Ham United in a joint-transfer with Bobby Zamora in July 2008 and went on to help the Whites to a highest-ever finish of seventh, before playing his part in our UEFA Europa League adventure.

‘My time at Fulham was fantastic,’ Panstil told Fulham’s official website. ‘There’s nothing I could say against the Club. Fulham is the team that makes me who I am.

‘It will always be my second home. My first home is in Ghana but I’ve always said that Craven Cottage is my second home.

‘For me, any time I can come to Fulham, if I get an invitation, I won’t hesitate because I like the Club, I like the people around the Club, especially the fans – they’ll always be my priority.’

During his three years in SW6, Pantsil was the definition of a fans’ favourite with his committed approach and the emotion he showed in each game.

Just before kick-off in every match he’d raise his arms and bow his head in a silent prayer, and he’d celebrate a positive result with a lap of honour around the pitch following the final whistle.

And he’s promised the Fulham faithful similar scenes on Saturday 23rd May.

‘Definitely, we will do it!’ John confirmed. ‘I’ll always give the lap of honour to the fans because it’s something that I’ll never forget. I’ll give it to them.

‘I think it was very good between me and the Fulham fans – we had a very, very, very good relationship. I still chat with them on Facebook all the time.

‘I hope a lot of fans come down to the charity event so I can interact with them and see them again, because I miss them. I cannot wait to meet the fans and talk with them.’

It’s more than four years since Pantsil last pulled on a Fulham shirt, but he has been keeping a close eye on the Club ever since.

‘I’ve been following Fulham since I left,’ he said. ‘So first when I was playing for Leicester, then back in Israel, and now in South Africa.

‘I’ve been watching their progress all the time, and I’ve also been keeping in touch with some of the guys there to know what’s happening with the Club.

‘So me coming back to support the charity, I think is a great thing. I’m happy. It will be very nice to come back and I’m looking forward to it.’

At 33, Pantsil will be one of the youngest members of the Fulham All Stars squad next week, and comes into the game on the back of his new club’s most successful campaign.

‘I’m playing in South Africa for a team called Maritzburg United,’ he explained. ‘Things are going so good. For many years they’ve been chasing top eight and we’ve been able to finish eighth this season, so I’m proud of that.

‘I’m still enjoying my football and I’ve still got more to go. The confidence and the speed is still there so I’m very happy.’

While Whites fans will remember Pantsil as a marauding full-back, he occupies a new role for Maritzburg – although he’s targeting a more forward position next week in the hope of netting at the Cottage for the first time.

‘Now I’m playing at centre-back,’ he revealed. ‘It’s been good – I’ve played 30 games there, the whole season, and kept quite a few clean sheets. But in the charity game I think I’ll be playing as an attacker! I have to get a goal this time!’

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