Special Feature
Oggy - Team spirit won us the FA Cup

By Steve Carpenter 09/02 Updated: 16/02 10:29

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Buy photos » Steve Ogrizovic in action early in his Sky Blues career. (S) Photo courtesy of PA

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Coventry City’s famous FA Cup triumph over Tottenham Hotspur, the Observer has teamed up with Coventry City’s Former Players’ Association (CCFPA) to re-capture the memories of players, managers and fans from the club’s greatest day on May 16, 1987.

This week our sports reporter Steve Carpenter caught up with club legend Steve Ogizovic who played for several Coventry sides down the years on his way to making a record-breaking 504 appearances for the Sky Blues, but in his opinion, non better than the 1987 side.

"I have been part of many good Coventry teams down the years," Ogizovic told the Observer.

"I was part of the team that got the quarter-finals in 1998. We had a great bunch of players that year and I think had we beaten Sheffield United we would have gone on to win the cup. But I think the best City team I was part of has to be the 1987 team simply because we won something.

"We’d bought in a lot of young players who were thrown straight in at the deep end and it was a struggle to begin with, but we were all capable of competing at the highest level.

"We all gradually got better over the years and as a team we were improving all the way up to the FA Cup winning season when everything blossomed at the right time.

"We were a well balanced team and I always felt we were better than what people thought, but above all our team spirit was something special. We didn’t know when we were beaten."

Ogrizovic signed for the Sky Blues from Shrewsbury Town in 1984 where he spent two years gaining first team football after learning his trade at European giants Liverpool as understudy to Ray Clemence - his opposite number on that day in May 1987.

But it was the impact John Sillett and George Curtis had when they took over the year before the cup win City’s current goalkeeping coach recalls as massively important to the club’s cup success.

"Sillett was the tactician and picked the team while Curtis was responsible for organising everything and that took a lot of pressure off his partner.

"I can remember when we won at Old Trafford you could feel the crowd thinking this could be our year.

"We were playing well in the league but we somehow raised our game for the cup. I was on the bench in 1978 for Liverpool and I had been for a couple of Charity Shield matches, but this was the first time I had been involved at Wembley.

"We didn’t just want to turn up. It was important we put on a performance because we had done so well to get here.

"I’ll always remember just before we went out, Sillett told us to keep it tight early on but low and behold we found ourselves 1-0 down after a couple of minutes! That was a real test of our character, but we had been here before when we went 1-0 down in the semi-final against Leeds.

"Lots of things ran through my mind at the final whistle. I thought of my family and how it had been such a great occasion for everyone involved with the club.

"The great thing about the celebrations was that my daughter had been born two days before the match and the club organised for us to parade through Walsgrave Hospital as part of our open top bus celebration and that was a great moment.

"We won the cup that year for the fans. They were brilliant throughout the competition and have always been very good supporters. They deserved 1987 and there isn't a day that goes by without someone reminding me of it."

Ogrizovic retired from playing in 2000, but stayed with the club and is now is still involved with the Sky Blues as their goalkeeping coach where he works with all of the club's goalkeepers to improve their game, and he recalls the learning experience he had at former club Liverpool.

"I spent three years at Liverpool and learnt so much during my time there. I was understudy to England's finest keeper at the time and it was great to be involved with huge expectations, it shaped my career.

"The people at the club were amazing and I think I improved so much as a player while I was there, but there came a point when I realised I needed first team football and that is what I got at Shrewsbury Town.

"There I improved a lot as a goalkeeper and it was great to put all that I had learnt at Liverpool into practice.

"Coventry were the first club to come in for me and from the moment I came down I felt right at home. The club had this family feeling to it and it still does to this day. I liked it and the rest as they say is history."

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Buy photos» Steve Ogrizovic currently works as a goalkeeping coach with the Sky Blues. Photo by Jon Mullis. 28.09.002.cov.jm98

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