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Liverpool V Man U


"There’s no bigger match in English football than when Liverpool and Manchester United come face to face. Even though Liverpool’s fortunes have slipped behind United’s in recent seasons, it still dominates the calendar. But back in 1996 when we clashed at Wembley in the FA Cup final, everyone was expecting a showpiece to savour.

"We’d had two good meetings in the Premiership and played very well, and we felt we held the edge having followed a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford with a 2-0 win at Anfield, with Robbie Fowler scoring all four of our goals. Sadly it wasn’t enough to stop United winning the title as we trailed 11 points behind in third place.

"We were determined to put on a show at Wembley to get revenge, and on paper it was a mouth-watering contest. On the pitch it proved a stinker. The teams cancelled each other out before the match was won by Eric Cantona’s 85th-minute goal (above), which was a bad one for us defensively.

"The game was instantly forgettable and nowadays it’s mainly remembered for our cream suits and the whole ‘Spice Boys’ tag. When a Cup final between two of football’s giants is remembered for things off the pitch, that says it all. People still go on about the suits, but it doesn’t bother me.

"One thing is for sure — they had no bearing on the match. I looked over at the United suits before the game and they were terrible — all in black with ridiculous waistcoats. But when you win the Cup, people don’t worry about things like that.

"Despite having seven more meetings with United, I never did beat them again as a Liverpool player. Thankfully I already had an FA Cup winner’s medal, having been named man of the match in our 2-0 win over Sunderland four years earlier. That was a close-run thing.

"I dislocated my kneecap in the semi-final against Portsmouth and didn’t think I had any chance of making the final. Luckily a swift recovery and an injury to John Barnes let me in.

"But even then we were given the wrong medals — fortunately, the Sunderland boys were good enough to wait at the bottom of the stairs and swap over. Otherwise I don’t know when I would have realised. When you collect medals you just take the box and have a quick look — we were all more concerned with waving at the fans."

(Image: Getty)



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