It seems odd that the 1991 FA Cup final is remembered for a player who was substituted after 17 minutes.
Paul Gascoigne being carried off the Wembley pitch on a stretcher after suffering a knee injury is the defining image of one of Tottenham’s most historic games.
Terry Venables’ side beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 after extra time on this day 30 years ago to win the FA Cup a then record eighth time. They have not lifted the famous trophy since.
Gazza’s mad 15 minutes, where he committed near enough assault on Garry Parker with a chest-high tackle and then wiped out Gary Charles with a wild challenge that inflicted knee ligament damage on himself, is what the game is remembered for.
But there are many other stories to come out of that game.
Gary Mabbutt’s redemption from the 1987 final, Gary Lineker’s missed penalty and disallowed goal or the extra-time own-goal that won the silverware.
But what about the boyhood Spurs fan who got to win the most famous cup competition playing for the team he loved?
Step forward Vinny Samways.
The midfielder was born in Bethnal Green and grew up watching Spurs win FA Cups on the TV.
So to get the chance of wearing the famous white shirt at Wembley and climbing up the 39 steps as a winner was a fairytale story for him.
“The FA Cup final was always a special day, from a little kid always watching cup final day and then to play in the final for the team you support, it is obviously an amazing feeling,” Samways said in an exclusive interview with SpursWeb.
“It was like a dream come true. Spurs have always had a strong connection with the FA Cup so to be part of that was obviously a super special day.
“It was a very long time ago. I didn’t realise it was the anniversary.”
Spurs were largely reliant on Gascoigne for getting them to the Wembley final.
The England midfielder scored late goals against Portsmouth, Oxford and Notts County in three successive rounds and then fired in one of the most memorable FA Cup goals when he scored that free-kick against Arsenal.
He was at the peak of his powers, still on a high from achieving worldwide fame at Italia 90 and preparing to head back to Italy to join Lazio.
But he was also a man on a self-destruct mission that day, somehow avoiding an early red card for a chest-high tackle on Parker before suffering serious knee ligament damage for a challenge on Charles, which led to Stuart Pearce scoring Forest’s opener from a free-kick.
He tried to play on, but was stretchered off immediately after the restart and it actually helped Spurs.
Lineker soon had a perfectly good goal disallowed and then missed a penalty before Paul Stewart levelled 10 minutes after the restart.
Spurs looked the liklier team to win and it was a Des Walker own goal, early into extra time that gave Spurs the glory.
Samways added: “There were many incidents and obviously Gazza’s injury so early on was a massive blow to us. To lose him was a big blow.
“But we rallied round, then we missed a penalty and you wonder if it’s going to be our day, but we carried on working hard and in the end we were worthy winners.”
And how was it for Samways, playing alongside Gascoigne in his pomp?
“It was fantastic. Gazza was an exceptional player, I believe he was one if the best players around at the time so it was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside him,” he said.
“Everybody has their emotions and of course he was hyped up. It was just an unfortunate challenge, not just for the team but for him as well because it was a serious injury.
“It delayed his move to Lazio by a year, but did the injury take a toll on him, I’m not too sure because he went to Italy and did quite well.”
Spurs, a team with such rich history in the competition, have not won the FA Cup since.
Their lack of trophies in recent years has never been more topical, especially with news of Harry Kane’s desire to leave the club.
“When you think of tradition they had in the cup you thought they would have won it a few more times since, but it goes to show how tough the competition is,” Samways, who is an agent in Spain, added.
“They have come close a few times. In this competition, it is few and far between when you actually win but fingers crossed in the next couple of years they get to a final and hopefully go on and win it.”
With Kane’s future up in the air and a new manager coming in, Spurs face a massive summer.
Samways wants to see someone come in and play stylish football and says Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers would be a great fit.
“They are going to need someone with fresh ideas who has got the respect of the dressing room that hopefully plays the Tottenham way,” he said.
“Who that can be, nobody knows.
“People have mentioned Brendan Rodgers, I think he would be a great fit, but would he want to be leaving Leicester now after what he is doing?
“Tottenham will always be an attraction to people because they are a massive club. They have got the best stadium in Europe and the club itself will always attract people.
“But you have got to see who is out there and what the project is for the new manager.”
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