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N/L Les on Leicester tightrope

Posted on 22 February 2002  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

Two weeks ago Les Ferdinand really walked the tightrope and well and truly flirted with every players' dread - missing out on a major cup final.

Sitting on four bookings and just recovered from injury, Les needed a game and Leicester City at home provided the opportunity. One card waved in his direction and Les would have been reduced to a spectator in Cardiff.

"It was a difficult situation," reflected Les. "From the off, I spoke to the manager and he hadn't made up his mind from early in the week whether I was going to play or not. But, because I'd had the rest with my neck he felt I needed the 90 minutes run out or whatever it may be.

"So he decided to play me and said 'look, you've just got to be careful'. When he told me that I thought 'right, whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I'm going to go out there and try and play my normal game'."

But, of course, Les's predicament was common knowledge and the well-wishers banished any thoughts Les had of putting it to the back of his mind come kick-off.

"Leading up to the game everybody was saying to me 'Les, just be careful, keep your mouth shut, don't kick the ball away, don't do anything', then it came to the forefront of my mind and I sort of played on the periphery of the game for 70-odd minutes and then got involved in a tangle.

"I think it was the frustration of playing on the edge of the game and not getting involved as much as I probably wanted to."

The tangle of course was sparked by a collision with one Robbie Savage, but Les says it was not quite heart in mouth time as he waiting for the referee's reaction and he praised the conduct of the Leicester players who urged him not to get into bother.

"I don't think so, I was still hyped up from the little incident. It was just a case of going over to the referee, bowing your head and saying 'yeah, there's nothing to it' and that was it. Fortunately he didn't give me the yellow card.

"To be fair, a lot of their playing were talking to me and telling me not to get booked. When it happened they were saying 'Les don't get yourself booked for the final, you've got too much to lose'. To be fair to them they were bang on."

So Les managed not to be dealt a card on the day and can now look ahead to the final with Blackburn on Sunday. For all his personal success during his career, Cup final appearances have been a bit thin on the ground for the experienced marksman.

"No there's only been the one cup final from my time in Turkey and the Worthington Cup here a few years ago.

"I've personally done very well, I've had some good accolades as a player myself, but I've not achieved much with the team with the clubs I've played for."

Of course, Les was on track for a Premiership title with Newcastle and he says he will always have a sense of regret over how a 12-point lead evaporated.

"It will haunt me for the rest of my life, people will always talk about it, we were 12 points clear after Christmas and looked like we were going to cruise the title. Unfortunately we threw it away.

"Even today, I can't say Man Utd won it, we give it away. But that's football, I'm sad that I was part of that, it was nice while it was going well."

But while Kevin Keegan's side always cut a dash in the Premiership, they were never what you would describe as a 'cup side'.

"No, not at all. Believe it or not, for all the good football that we played and being everybody's second favourite team, we were never able to string a cup run together.

"Since I left I think they've been to a couple of cup finals, but didn't win them..."

By Richard Hubbard