Friday, March 11, 2011
The FA Cup's Greatest Forwards
ESPNsoccernet will be taking you through the season with a series of FA Cup features detailing the highlights of the competition's long and proud history. Here, we look at those strikers who have left their mark on the competition.
• Vote for your FA Cup all-time best XI
• FA Cup's Greatest Controversies
• FA Cup's Greatest Goalkeepers
• FA Cup's Greatest Defenders
• FA Cup's Greatest Midfielders
• FA Cup's Greatest Goals
• FA Cup LIVE on ESPN
Ian Rush (Chester City, Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Wrexham)
On January 5 1980 Ian Rush enjoyed "the most amazing day" of his young life. The fresh-faced 18-year-old scored for Chester City as the Divison Three side pulled off an FA Cup shock against Newcastle United in front of 30,000 fans and just a few months later the £300,000 striker was snapped up by Liverpool. Once at Anfield, the Welshman left an indelible mark on the competition, winning it three times and bowing out as the FA Cup's greatest goalscorer, with 44 strikes. In 1986 Rush scored twice in a 3-1 win over city-rivals Everton in the first all-Merseyside FA Cup final and broke the Toffees' hearts again three years later when, with the game tied at 1-1, he came off the bench and scored twice in extra-time as Liverpool won a thrilling final 3-2. Another winners medal and another Wembley goal followed in 1992 as Liverpool beat Sunderland 2-0, but there were sour moments too for Rush. The Liverpool legend's final touch of the ball in a Reds shirt came when it bounced off his shoulder to set up Eric Cantona's winning goal as arch-rivals Manchester United scooped the FA Cup in 1996 - it was the only final Rush lost.
Jackie Milburn (Newcastle United)
'Wor' Jackie is widely regarded as the best striker to ever play for Newcastle United and was instrumental in the Magpie's three FA Cup victories in 1951, 1952 and 1955. En route to the first of those triumphs the converted winger, who turned up for a trial with Newcastle in 1943 with a pair of borrowed football boots wrapped in brown paper, scored in every round, topping that with two goals in five second half minutes as Newcastle beat Stanley Matthews' Blackpool 2-0 in the final. The following year Milburn left the Wembley heroics to Chilean striker George Robledo but sent Newcastle on their way to the final with a stunning hat-trick in a 4-2 quarter-final victory over Portsmouth. Then, bidding for a third FA Cup in five years, Milburn scored after just 45 seconds - the fastest goal to be scored in an FA Cup final at Wembley at the time - as the Toon beat Manchester City 3-1.
Jimmy Greaves (Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham)
Despite scoring 132 goals during four seasons with Chelsea, it wasn't until Greaves joined Tottenham in a £99,999 deal from AC Milan (manager Bill Nicholson didn't want him to become Britain's first £100,000 player) in 1961 that the sensational striker scooped his first major honour - the FA Cup. Spurs had won the Double the previous season and goal-machine Greaves scored in every round, bar one, as he helped Tottenham defend their title, netting the opening goal as they won the tactical 'Chessboard Final' against Burnley 3-1. Greaves, who is the highest goalscorer in the history of English top flight, tasted FA glory once again in 1968. The striker scored seven times en-route to the 'Cockney Final' with Chelsea, which Spurs won 2-1.
Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Since he arrived in English football from Marseille in 2004, Drogba has fired Chelsea to three FA Cup triumphs, scoring in all three finals, and the first victory, in 2007, capped a season of personal milestones for the Ivory Coast striker. Opponents Manchester United had beaten Chelsea to the Premier League title just two weeks earlier but Golden Boot winner Drogba struck his 33rd goal of the season as the Blues won the first FA Cup final to be played at the new Wembley Stadium. Two year's on, having been hit by injury and suspension, a late charge in the FA Cup saved Drogba's season. He scored a late winner against Arsenal in the semi-final and then, after Louis Saha had given Everton the lead with the quickest ever goal in an FA Cup final, after just 25 seconds, Drogba equalised in a 2-1 victory. In 2010 Drogba cemented his reputation as a Wembley specialist when he scored a dipping freekick to clinch a 1-0 win against Portsmouth - his 10th goal in the competition.
Mark Hughes (Manchester United, Chelsea, Southampton, Blackburn Rovers, Everton)
Hughes was a real FA Cup warrior for both Manchester United and Chelsea and is the only player to have picked up four Cup winners' medals at Wembley. The first came in 1985 when his two goals in the semi-final against Liverpool sent United on their way to a 1-0 victory over Everton in the final. Then, after a brief stint with Barcelona, 'Sparky' returned to Manchester, and scooped his second FA Cup in 1990, with his double rescuing Manchester United from defeat against Crystal Palace, before winning the replay. A third trophy with United followed in 1994 when he scored in a 4-0 win over Chelsea. He then completed the set with the Blues in 1997.
Stan Mortensen (Blackpool, Hull City, Southport)
RAF radio operator Mortensen returned from WWII to help fire Blackpool to three FA Cup finals in five years. In 1948, the Seasiders stood on the brink of defeat at the semi-final stage as Tottenham led 1-0 with only four minutes to go but Mortensen scored to force extra-time and then completed a hat-trick to book a place in the final. Unfortunately, the England international suffered the bitter taste of defeat in the final, and again in 1951. It looked like it would be third time unlucky in 1953 with Bolton leading 3-1 at Wembley but Mortensen, having scored, added two more goals to help secure a much-deserved FA Cup winners' medal. The Blackpool centre-forward remains the only player to score a hat-trick in an FA Cup final and it is somewhat unfair that the 1953 showpiece is known as 'the Matthews Final' due to the performance of his team-mate.
Nat Lofthouse (Bolton Wanderers)
Bolton-born Lofthouse scored in every round of the FA Cup in 1953 and must have thought his name was on the trophy when he added to his tally after just 75 seconds of the final to help Bolton ease into a 3-1 lead against Blackpool. He even hit the post before Blackpool rallied to pull off a shock 4-3 victory. Nicknamed the Lion of Vienna - a sobriquet he acquired after being knocked out scoring a goal for England during a 3-2 win in Austria - Lofthouse was not a man to shrink from a challenge and when Bolton returned to Wembley for the 1958 FA Cup final he showcased his commitment in controversial fashion. The former coal miner scored both goals in Bolton's 2-0 win over Manchester United, but the second, when he barged United keeper Harry Gregg into the goal and left him unconscious, remains one of the most contentious in a final. The goal stood and Lofthouse was an FA Cup winner.
Michael Owen (Liverpool, Newcastle United, Manchester United)
A virtuoso late show from two-goal hero Michael Owen in the 2001 FA Cup final overturned Arsenal's dominance and set him on his way to winning the Ballon d'Or that same year. With Wembley being rebuilt the game took place at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and Arsenal were rewarded for incessant pressure in the first FA Cup final played outside England when Freddie Ljungberg gave them the lead with 20 minutes left. The Gunners looked certain to win and had almost begun celebrating victory when Owen equalised with seven minutes to go after pouncing on a half-cleared free-kick. With extra-time looming the young England star then outpaced both Tony Adams and Lee Dixon to score an unlikely winner and secure the second trophy of Liverpool's cup treble.
Eric Cantona (Leeds United, Manchester United)
Eric Cantona arrived at Old Trafford in a cut-price £1 million deal from Leeds United and inspired the Red Devils to a wealth of domestic success that included two FA Cup triumphs in three years. In the 1994 final the Frenchman scored two spot-kicks inside seven minutes to win a on-field wager with Chelsea's Dennis Wise, who had bet Cantona £100 he would miss in an attempt to try and disturb his concentration, and secured a 4-0 victory over the Blues. Two years later, after returning from a ban for his infamous 'kung-fu' kick on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons, Cantona lead United to another FA Cup final. Before the match, the focus was on Liverpool's 'Spice Boys' and their white suits, but it was Cantona who made the headlines when it mattered, scoring the winner with a well-controlled volley from the edge of the penalty area and then lifting the trophy as captain.
Ian Wright (Crystal Palace, Arsenal, West Ham, Burnley)
Having been plucked from non-league football at the ripe old age of 22, Wright scored twice as a super sub as unfancied Crystal Palace drew 3-3 in the 1990 FA Cup final, his first goal forced extra-time and his second put the Eagles ahead in extra-time, but United fought back through Mark Hughes and eventually won the replay 1-0. In 1993 Wright, who had joined Arsenal, once again scored in the FA Cup final and once again the match had to go to a replay, but this time the England international triumphed, scoring the opening goal as the Gunners beat Sheffield Wednesday after yet more extra-time. Wright, who scored 15 goals during his FA Cup career, picked up a third winners medal in 1998, although the substitute played no part in Arsenal's 2-0 win over Newcastle.