Peter Rodrigues hopes another Southampton captain can join him on the podium

24 February 2017 12:39

Peter Rodrigues is the only Southampton captain to have lifted a major trophy - a load the 1976 FA Cup hero hopes to share after this weekend.

Few expected Lawrie McMenemy's Second Division side to lay a glove on much-fancied Manchester United 41 years ago, only for Bobby Stokes to fire home the most famous goal in the club's history and shock the footballing world.

They are footsteps the current crop will try and follow this Sunday as Saints head to Wembley in the EFL Cup final looking to upset the odds against United once more.

The triumphant team of '76 has gone down in club folklore - the sole bastion of major cup success in the topsy-turvy history of the Hampshire side.

It means Rodrigues is the only man to have ever captained Southampton to a major trophy - something the 73-year-old hopes will not still be the case on Sunday evening.

"I am very proud of it, extremely proud - to be skipper of a cup-winning side, you cannot take it away," Rodrigues told Press Association Sport.

"All the superlatives you want to use I can use for you, but it's sort of time to move on.

"What a great result against Liverpool in the semi-final and I hope they go on and win it because I would like to actually talk to a cup-winning captain.

"To have two winning captains in the town would be nice. It would be nice to have another one around!"

Rodrigues is a proud Welshman and represented his country 40 times, but Southampton is the place he calls home.

Saints' result is the first the former full-back looks out for when he is not down at St Mary's, where he has been welcomed more frequently over recent years.

There is, though, a reluctance to be pushed in front of people as Saints' cup-winning captain - a discomfort that led him to miss the 40th anniversary celebrations.

But discomfort should not be confused for apathy as Rodrigues recalls Southampton's most famous day with remarkable detail and pride.

"I am sure it does still annoy United fans and if I'm around them I can't help but mention it," Rodrigues said when asked about Stokes' winner, laughing.

"Young people talk to me and say 'Stokesy was offside' and you think 'cor blimey, he wasn't born yet he knows the ins and outs of it'.

"It is the same with the Saint supporters. You walk down the street and a dad will go 'do you know who this is, son?' No, is normally the response!

"It is spoken a lot down here so it always to me feels fresh. It does feel like yesterday."

Southampton's 1976 triumph remains one of the great cup final upsets, but there had always been a quiet confidence within the group thanks to the authority of experienced players like Mick Channon, Peter Osgood and Jim McCalliog.

"I remember coming to toss the coin with Martin Buchan and his legs were shaking," Rodrigues said of Tommy Docherty's United captain.

"He was experienced, he's an international, so I turned around to Ossie said 'he's shaking like a leaf over there!' Obviously they were concerned about us in a way."

And United were right to be as Saints rode an early storm and attempted to snatch a winner.

"I was looking out with 10 minutes left and could see that little cup there," Rodrigues said.

"I was thinking 'there could be a replay in a minute' then, bingo, Bobby nicked it and scored. Absolutely awesome."

Rodrigues bolted 40 yards and launched on top of his team-mates in wild celebrations that would go up several more notches after the final whistle.

"Collecting the cup from the Queen, turning half a metre and raising it to 32,000 in red and white stripes - that was the greatest moment of my life," he said.

"You see it when you're a kid, you think 'that must be terrific'. I've done it as a player now so I know the feeling and I still feel that way when I watch other cup finals."

Rodrigues knows it will be hard for Claude Puel's men to repeat the feat against United, pointing to the loss of star turn Virgil van Dijk and fellow defender Jose Fonte's move to West Ham.

There is, though, a belief that Saints can emerge triumphant - an occasion Rodrigues will enjoy with the fans at Wembley.

"When they buzz, they buzz," he said. "I love the club to bits. I love all the players, ex-players and when we go down there you bed to each other straight away.

"I hope the club are successful and win this game. It'd be lovely, absolutely fabulous.

"It was a nice day out, 40-odd years ago and it is piece of history that needs to be broken. It needs to have a little back-up."

Source: PA


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