THE GAMES THAT CHANGED MY LIFE GARY MABBUTT
October 13, 1982 England 1 W Germany 2 I had been expecting to make my England debut in midfield – my position at the time – but on the morning of the match, Viv Anderson got injured and Bobby Robson asked if I could fill in at right-back (bottom-right picture). West Germany were a superb side and had played in the World Cup final just a few months beforehand. We were beaten 2-1 but it was great to walk out at Wembley wearing the England kit.
May 23, 1984 Tottenham 1 Anderlecht 1 I had 16 years at Tottenham and in that time I played in a lot of huge games, but the UEFA Cup final was my first cup final for the club and one of the biggest. European nights are always special at White Hart Lane, but to win the UEFA Cup there was particularly special (bottom-middle picture). We had drawn the first leg in Belgium the week before, so with this one ending on the same scoreline, it went to extra-time, then penalties. I hate penalties deciding any big competition but fortunately we were
“I won the FA Cup for Coventry. It was a freak goal, but at least I’m a legend in the Midlands!”
on the right end of this one when Tony Parks saved Arnor Gudjohnsen’s kick.
May 16, 1987 Coventry 3 Tottenham 2 We’d had a brilliant season and were huge favourites to win this FA Cup final, but on the day Coventry played magnificently. We were perhaps slightly below par and subsequently were defeated, which was of course hugely disappointing. It was the first FA Cup final the club had ever lost and, to make matters worse, I scored the winning goal for Coventry. I think overall it was a great game won by a freak goal, but at least I’m a legend in the Midlands!
May 18, 1991 Tottenham 2 Nottingham Forest 1 When I was a boy I used to wonder what it must be like to win a cup final and walk up those steps at Wembley and lift the cup. If I’d beaten my brother at Subbuteo, I’d lift the little plastic trophy in my living room and run around the house with it above my head. To be honest, doing it with the real thing is exactly as you’d imagine it (main picture) – an unbelievable feeling of pride, especially after what had happened four years previously. That single moment was probably one of the biggest highlights of my career.
August 17, 1996 Blackburn 0 Tottenham 2 Any player will say the worst bit of football is the frustration you feel when injured. I had a few different injuries in my career but missing the whole season from the 18th minute of the first game was particularly soul-destroying (bottom-left picture). I broke two bones in my leg so had to undergo several operations and had serious concerns about whether I’d ever get back.
May 10, 1998 Tottenham 1 Southampton 1 Some players enjoy their final game, but this wasn’t a good day for me. Having played for the club for 16 years and been captain for 11, I was walking out onto the White Hart Lane turf in front of the fans for the last time and that was a huge thing to take on board. I was 37, so I’d had a good innings, and had come to the stage where my mind still wanted to play but my body was saying no. I came on for the last 10 minutes and was given the armband, which was nice.
Gary Mabbutt is an analyst for ESPN’s football coverage, which includes Barclays Premier League, FA Cup, the SPL, Serie A and the Bundesliga
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