City's Scottish trio miss out but it's joy for Jordan

JOE Jordan knows better than most people that players need to seize opportunities to play in an FA Cup final or else likely regret it for ever more. The Portsmouth first-team coach challenged his players to rise to the occasion last week, and, no matter the debilitating fatigue, keep their concentration until the very end.

His words won't help soothe the frustrations of Kevin McNaughton, Gavin Rae and Steven Thompson, the trio of Cardiff City Scots whose hopes of glory were shattered by Kanu's winner. They did not so much fail to grasp the chance as simply learn that despite their wholehearted efforts Cardiff were not good enough, with Portsmouth, although not at the top of their game, able to close-out victory with relative ease against Championship opposition.

"I realise some players in the team will get the opportunity to play at this level again, but it's unlikely most of us will get the chance to feature in another FA Cup final," lamented Thompson, the 29-year-old former Rangers and Dundee United striker who replaced Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the second half. "It's unlikely to happen to us again, so you have to take as much as you can from it, remember it, and when you are an old man with a beer belly you can look back and say 'I played in an FA Cup final'. It's something to be proud of. Not a lot of people get to experience it."

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There will remain, though, a sense of disappointment that they were not able to join an even more exclusive club – that of FA Cup winners. Jordan was a member of the Manchester United team who had the ignoble distinction of losing the 1979 final twice. Adrift 2-0 in the closing stages, the game looked over for United until a late brace from Gordon McQueen and Sammy McIlroy saw extra-time loom large. But the players took their eye off the ball for a moment and allowed Graham Rix, the other future Hearts manager on the Wembley pitch that day, to skip down the wing. He aimed a far-post cross for Alan Sunderland, who headed a dramatic winner into the net. Dave Sexton, the Old Trafford manager, never won a trophy at United, and left soon afterwards.

Jordan felt they owed Sexton a trophy that day, just as, years later, he believed the well-paid Portsmouth players were due Harry Redknapp some silverware. He also believed they had a duty to themselves. "I just tried to convey what it might mean when they look back on their careers and can say, 'I had that day at Wembley when I was a winner'," he said last week.

Jordan, who was also on the bench for Leeds United in two other finals, relished being part of a win on Saturday night. In 1972, when Leeds beat Arsenal at Wembley, he wasn't even stripped, but felt that the chance would come again. It did, but the following year, after scoring in the semi-final against Wolves, he was an unused substitute as Leeds fell to Second Division Sunderland. And then came 1979, and another Sunderland-delivered blow.

"I am taking a lot of satisfaction from winning this FA Cup final," he said. "But you can't make comparisons between how success feels as a player and how it feels as a coach. Playing football is the best thing for me, and I am fortunate to have played at a decent level. There are always highs and lows, and this is a high and I will enjoy it. It's recognition for Harry's work in the game. People who work in the game know what Harry has achieved on a small budget at Bournemouth, and now he's taken Portsmouth to their best position in over 50 years."

The win takes Portsmouth into Europe for the first time, and even Jordan, who played in Serie A, is excited at the prospect. "The last time I was in European competition I was at Hearts," he reflected. "I did take Stoke into the Anglo-Italian Cup, but I don't know if that counts."