Where are they now? FA Cup hero, Steve Sedgley
Thu 13 May 2021, 12:00|Tottenham Hotspur
Ahead of Sunday’s Premier League encounter against Wolves, we caught up with former Spurs and Wolves midfielder Steve Sedgley to chat about his time with us and find out what he is up to now...
Born and raised just up the road from our N17 home in Enfield with Spurs running through his veins, Steve began his footballing days training with us during the week as a schoolboy. Yet, come the time of signing his first contract in the game, it was with Coventry City that the defender kicked off his professional career.
Initially linking up with the youth ranks at City, it was through hard work and just a slice of good fortune that ‘Sedge’ was quickly given his first team breakthrough. Having impressed his youth team coach John Sillett throughout his first season in the Midlands, when Sillett was promoted to first team manager the following year, he brought Steve with him. And from there, the 18-year-old didn’t look back, especially when, as a boyhood Spurs fan, he helped the Sky Blues to a 2-1 win over Arsenal on his professional debut.
At the end of that season, Coventry also reached their first ever FA Cup final and, coincidentally for 'Sedge', that came against us. That day ended in disappointment for us as we missed out on silverware after the unfortunate Gary Mabbutt put through his own net in extra time, but it was also an occasion tinged with frustration for the teenager as, despite his side lifting the cup, he remained an unused substitute. However, it had been an impressive debut season for him at Highfield Road, so much so that, when it came to leaving City, the opportunity of a dream return to north London arose.
Making the move home in 1989 as manager Terry Venables continued to rebuild our squad, Sedge enjoyed an encouraging first season as we finished third in the league, but it was in his second campaign where his crowning moment at the Club arrived as we lifted the FA Cup for the eighth time in 1991. He then helped us to the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following year before departing White Hart Lane for Ipswich in the summer of 1994.
A spell at Wolves later followed for the centre-half prior to his decision to ultimately retire from the game at the age of 32, following a recurring knee problem. But, since hanging up his boots for the last time 20 years ago, life hasn’t got any quieter for him.
“I did my knee again when playing for Wolves. I think it was in the October and I thought ‘right, my contract is up next year so I’m going to try to get my knee better’. I think I had done it four times by that point, so I had to look after it a bit better, but I never got back,” he reflected on retiring.
“Soon after, me and the family went on holiday with some friends to Barbados and, to cut a long story short, it was one of those mad things where I decided to go and live there. I had some good times there and my kids remember it fondly, but it was mad because in the space of six months, I had finished football and then gone to non-league Kingstonian to work under Geoff Chappell for the last few games of the season. He then got the sack because they got relegated, I was then given the job, but we had a bad time and then the club went into administration. Some new owners then came in, meanwhile my family wanted to do something different so, before you knew it, I was in Barbados.
“We came back though, and I ended up bumping into Mike Newell in a pub in Harpenden and we got talking football. I was soon invited down to Luton to be a youth team coach and they were doing well there. He later got sacked though and before you knew it, we were all out and I was looking at what I was going to do from there.
“I had a few friends in the building trade though, so I went back to college and learned tiling. That was about 10 years ago and now I have a small construction business. You learn every day. Some days you win, some days you don’t, but it’s given me another angle in life that shows you can do it, but it is the real world, and it is difficult.
“Before the Coronavirus pandemic, I was still coming back to Spurs and doing the hospitality as well. It’s still nice to see the lads. The former players are like one big family. We play golf together and stuff like that. I’ve known them for a long, long time now. Paul Stewart is still a very good friend of mine and I always see David Howells and Paul Allen at football, Darren Anderton, Teddy Sheringham, we have a game of golf. My dad said, ‘football is not all about the glory days, it’s about the people you meet because they become friends for life’.”
While he certainly made friends for life in the game, Steve also got to experience glory days as well - most notably our FA Cup triumph in 1991. A standout moment in his career, it was a success that meant so much to him for two reasons. Firstly, while he might have picked up a winners’ medal in the competition four years earlier with Coventry, he did so from the bench whereas, in our victory, he played every minute. Add to that the 3-1 win over Arsenal in the semi-finals to reach the Wembley showpiece, lifting that piece of silverware couldn’t have got much sweeter for the boyhood Spurs fan.
“In ‘87 with Coventry, it sounds bad, but I had broken into the team, I had played about 42 games yet, when it got to about the fifth round, the manager was choosing the same sort of team and then I would play in the games between those cup matches.
“When it came to the final, Graham Rodger was my roommate, and we were both on the bench. The week before, I had played midfield, he had played centre-half, so, when Brian Kilcline went down injured late in the final, Graham, who had been doing well, was the obvious replacement. So he got on the pitch and I didn’t and I was gutted because, as an 18-year-old hungry kid, you actually want to get on that pitch and play.
“To be fair to the lads, they always ribbed me saying ‘why are you getting a medal? You don’t deserve it. You didn’t do anything’. That always rankled me because you’re always thinking, ‘will I get back to a cup final?’ The fact that I actually got back there and won it, that didn’t make up for ’87, but it was one thing knocked off the list. It was something that had been in my childhood dreams.
“It was just the atmosphere of that semi-final with Arsenal and the pressure of it as well. I don’t really remember the games themselves; I probably remember the before and after better. It was a huge game. I thought we deserved to win the tie but, having only watched it back once or twice since, it was a lot closer than I thought.
“There were plenty of chances, but we got the win and that was history. Once we had got through that, the hardest thing was then to actually play the final and win something because, without that trophy, the win over Arsenal wouldn’t have meant half as much.”