FORMER Saints and Pompey defender Jon Gittens has passed away, aged 55.

Gittens, who also played for Swindon Town, Torquay United and Exeter City, had a three-year spell as Fareham Town manager (2002-04) before coaching Team Solent and then leading Blackfield & Langley (2007-10) into the Sydenhams Wessex League.

The Birmingham-born defender began his league career with Saints as a 21 year-old in 1985 after being spotted playing for Midlands Combination Paget Rangers.

He joined Saints shortly after competing a menswear tailoring course but moved to Swindon Town after being restricted to 18 appearances.

Gittens was the subject of Saints’ first transfer tribunal in 1987.

Signed by Saints for £10,000, he left for £40,000 after learning his trade alongside the likes of Mark Wright and Kevin Bond.

He made 126 appearances during his four years at Swindon, including victory in the 1990 second division play-off final, only for the Robins to be denied promotion due to financial irregularities.

Chris Nicholl re-signed Gittens for Saints in 1991 but only made another 19 appearances for the club. Gittens moved to Middlesbrough a year later after Ian Branfoot took charge.

He then moved to Pompey, making his 99th and final appearance in a 3-0 FA Cup defeat against Saints in 1996, before returning to Hampshire after ending his playing career in Devon.