by Rob Shepherd.
Next Saturday’s FA Cup third round clash between Arsenal and Tottenham evokes memories of the famous 1991 semi-final.
Given the enormous interest, a pointless exercise of both sets of London fans travelling north to Old Trafford was avoided, meaning it became first semi-final to be staged at Wembley.
It was a thrilling game best remembered for Paul Gascoigne’s astonishing 5th minute free kick to open the scoring – seemingly all the way from Willesden (see belolw).
Gascoigne had been a massive doubt for the game because he was recovering from a hernia operation.
A couple of weeks before I met up with him in the South of France where we had been watching Chris Waddle score the goal that saw Marseille beat AC Milan in the quarter finals of the European Cup.
Gazza gave me an interview insisting he would be fit for the semi-final which at the time seemed wishful thinking.
But he fulfilled his pledge. While he was not fit enough to last the distance, Gascoigne on his return to action at Wembley produced a whirlwind display that blew Arsenal – who would win the title that season – away.
Apart for the astonishing opening goal he later paved the way for Gary Lineker’s second. Alan Smith (yes, he’s on telly too now) pulled one back but Lineker then clinched a 3-1 triumph for Spurs.
Gazza’s joy at the final whistle is clear for all to see in this brief interview;
In the final Spurs beat Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest. It was a game which for Gazza would be in stark contrast to the joie d vivre exuded that semi-final day…