LIVERPOOL’S last FA Cup final win is synonymous with one man — Steven Gerrard.
A flash of right boot and shot of guided missile accuracy from the captain in injury time is the moment everyone remembers from that day in 2006.
Steven Gerrard scored twice, including this stunning 90th minute equaliser, in what has gone down in history as the ‘Gerrard final’Credit: Getty Images – Getty
Alan Pardew was left touched by a classy gesture from Gerrard after the gameCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
There is still a slight hint of frustration and “what if” in the voice of the man on the receiving end of that piece of artistry that ended ultimately in West Ham’s defeat on penalties.
Pardew, 60, said: “He was very humble to me after the game. He knew we had come so close. He came up to me and he wasn’t full of beans, jumping around. Nothing like that.
“He just said ‘it was our day and sorry for you guys’. I have always respected him for that. It takes a special person to do that after they have beaten you in a Cup final.
“He made a point of coming to me on the pitch, he walked over and said that to me and those moments, even in defeat, remain.
“There were only two words I could say — ‘thank you’. Then I added ‘go and enjoy your celebrations’.
“It was still in the back of my mind when he got the manager’s job at Rangers and now at Villa.
“What he did speaks volumes for him. Hearing him talk in interviews proves he has all the tools to be a top manager.
“You have to be humble. You don’t win all the time. More often than not you lose unless you are at a big club.
“It was painful because we lost but not because of our performance.
“We did a great job, we were thirty seconds or so away from it. It would have been a game changer for West Ham and me personally. I am still proud of the team that played that day.”
The 2006 match was staged at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium and Liverpool’s only FA Cup final at the new Wembley in 2012 ended in a 2-1 defeat by Saturday’s opponents Chelsea.
Liverpool have not won the FA Cup since that day in 2006Credit: PA
Pardew is currently manager of Bulgarian outfit CSKA SofiaCredit: Getty
Pardew said: “I’m surprised. For a club like Liverpool it’s a long, long time since they have won it. West Ham should have been back there by now too.
“Sometimes these top clubs have eras of being in the cup final. Manchester City had a period of it, Chelsea and Arsenal. Maybe it is Liverpool’s turn now.
“When a group of players gets the flavour, if they win there will be a strong appetite to continue that.
“It’s a special team with massive momentum behind them.
“The transfers have been extraordinary. Every one that has come in looks like it has taken the team forward. That is very rare.
What he did speaks volumes for him. Hearing him talk in interviews proves he has all the tools to be a top manager.
Alan Pardew, on Steven Gerrard
“Chelsea are in a strange place at the moment. If I was a fan I’d be wondering which Chelsea is going to turn up. They have had some strange results recently.”
The FA Cup is bittersweet for Pardew. Three finals — one as a player and two as manager also with Crystal Palace.
All ending in heartache yet he still loves the competition and cherishes his losers’ medals.
Tomorrow will be his fourth cup final but in a much different setting. As the new boss of Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia he will lead the team out against city rivals Levski in what will be a hothouse atmosphere.
Pardew said: “It’s going to be wild. I’m told the city will be half red and half blue. This game is like Liverpool v Everton, Man City v Man United and West Ham v Millwall rolled into one.
“In terms of the rivalry it is massive. The expectation is not lost on me. It would be painful to lose this game.
“If I think of the last couple of cup finals, Gerrard, a world-class player ruined my game plan when I was at West Ham.
“[Wayne] Rooney ruined it for me when I managed Palace. Hopefully there won’t be a Gerrard or a Rooney on the pitch this Sunday and I can finally get my hands on a winners’ medal.”