In 1994 Tottenham Hotspur stunned everyone by signing Jürgen Klinsmann, one of the biggest names to arrive in England since Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa, and a real statement by Spurs in the early days of the Premier League-era.
Now managed by Ardiles himself, the North London outfit also brought in Romanian super duo Ilie Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Popescu. Under the ownership of Alan Sugar, they were deadly serious about disrupting the status quo at the top.
Yet, the season didn’t go as planned. Spurs were banned from the FA Cup due to financial irregularities. Inconsistency in the league cost Ardiles his job. The Romanian duo failed to settle and eventually exited.
Gerry Francis came in to revive Spurs’ fortunes and the situation started to improve. An appeal to be reinstated into the FA Cup was won and, with the league now out of reach, it gave them an opportunity to salvage their season.
After Spurs knocked out Altrincham, Sunderland, and Southampton they were rewarded with a quarter-final trip to Anfield to face Liverpool. On paper, this game had every potential to be a vintage Cup tie.
The Kop galvanised the home team yet Spurs weren’t going to be submerged under any ambiance. Both sides had phenomenal striker partnerships; Ian Rush and Robbie Fowler versus Teddy Sheringham and Klinsmann.
From the beginning, the match was high octane end-to-end action. Liverpool were looking more and more likely to break the deadlock and did so in the 36th minute. Mark Walters made a sublime run from his own half, one so awe-inspiring that it combined a Maradona-esque run and a Cruyff turn. Robbie Fowler was the lucky recipient of the eventual cross, nodding the ball in to put the home side 1-0 up.
Anfield’s happiness was shortlived. Two minutes Klinsmann made his mark at one of English football’s most famous ground. Receiving the ball from David Howells, the German international was through on the Liverpool goal but instead of shooting decided to pause, open his einsteinium brain and analyse his surrounding from a gradient of 180 degrees.
Realising that an incoming Teddy Sheringham had a better chance of drawing things level, he gave a subtle pass to his strike partner. This time it was the Liverpool’s defenders turn to be left in a state of shambles. Sheringham curved the ball towards the right end of the goal, out of reach of Liverpool’s ‘keeper David James, and Spurs were level. The first half’s two goals weren’t necessarily vintage finishes, but it was the build-up play that was less British physicality and more continental flair and technique.
The second half resumed, and both teams looked keen to settle the tie within 90 minutes. In the 89th minute the attacking trident of Darren Anderton, Sheringham and Klinsmann combined to orchestrate one of the most thrilling finishes ever seen in the FA Cup.
It started with Anderton intercepting a Liverpool clearance and passing the ball to Sheringham. He had to make an expeditious decision within a matter of seconds. Sheringham flicked the ball perfectly to Klinsmann who skipped away from a couple of Liverpool defenders. They must have been so awe-stricken by Sheringham’s move that they completely forgot about the German striker.
Klinsmann only had to beat goalkeeper David James. With a path that is left to him like an open highway, the ball was only going to end up at one place. Spurs would go on to meet Everton in the semi-final, their season looking destined to end walking up Wembley Way and later lifting the iconic trophy. However, it was the Toffees who were victorious, trouncing Spurs 4-1 before shocking Manchester United in the final. torpedoed themselves to the final with a 4-1 win. Klinsmann would leave for Bayern Munich in the summer, leaving Spurs fans with the memories of an unforgettable cup tie.
By Sivan John
For our Magic of the Cup series