Cup can't be magical for everyone, says Perryman

MENTION the name Steve Perryman and the magic of the cup and veteran Spurs fans will be transported back to the early 1980s. The legendary Tottenham captain lifted the FA Cup at Wembley in 1981 and 1982...

By Ben Pearce

MENTION the name Steve Perryman and the 'magic of the cup' and veteran Spurs fans will be transported back to the early 1980s.

The legendary Tottenham captain lifted the FA Cup at Wembley in 1981 and 1982, and then raised the Uefa Cup aloft in 1984 after Tony Parks' heroics in the penalty shoot-out victory over Anderlecht.

And yet, ask the 58-year-old about Tottenham's shock defeat against cash-strapped, relegated Portsmouth on Sunday, and you discover that Perryman - like the current Tottenham crop - has been on the wrong side of a cup fairytale.

"It was a shame, a real shame but that's football," he told the Journal. "You get Ross County beating Celtic and, in various cup competitions, there are always strange results.

"That was a strange result but the other teams do train, they do practice. They go out and give it their best shot and sometimes it goes for you, and it really was Portsmouth's day for all sorts of reasons.

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"I was manager of a really good club in Japan, Shimizu S-Pulse, and this other good club, Yokohama Flugels, their sponsors pulled the plug.

"They got through to the equivalent of the FA Cup Final, the Emperor's Cup, against my team, and the whole of Japan was wishing them to win - and they did. That was their last game. I know Tottenham and Portsmouth was a semi-final, but it was a similar sort of thing."

Harry Redknapp's side may have blown their chance of following in the footsteps of Perryman, Graham Roberts, Garth Crooks, Glenn Hoddle and the Spurs legends who won the FA Cup in successive years.

However Perryman, who made a club record 854 appearances for Spurs between 1969 and 1986, points out that Spurs' current stars can still achieve something that he never did - qualify for Europe's elite competition.

"They're closer than they have been for a long time," said Perryman. "It's okay winning cups, and Tottenham has always been a cup-winning team, but I think the true test of a club and a manager is your league position.

"Harry obviously salvaged that position last year when he took over, and he's gone on to improve and take them up close enough to be contending, which is great.

"Of course I've got a special interest in Tottenham, being my club for all those years. I sincerely hope they do it. It's looking a very difficult task with the difficulty of the games that are coming up, but it would be great for Tottenham to be back in the Champions League.

"Of course they've been in the European Cup before [in 1961] but unfortunately it's been in the other European competitions, the Uefa Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup, that they've had their success.

"To go into this new competition, it would be really good for the supporters to see these class acts. You see that Arsenal v Barcelona game the other day - that's the stage you want to be on for sure.

"And even if you don't achieve the goals that you're trying for it's about the progress you're making, and they certainly have made progress.

"If they make similar strides next year to the ones they've made year then they'll be in the top two, let alone the top four! It's a work in progress."

Tottenham's nightmare run-in now sees the league leaders, Chelsea, preparing to visit White Hart Lane.

The idea that the Stamford Bridge outfit would travel to N17 as favourites would have been preposterous in Perryman's day and, on April 19 1975, he and Alfie Conn scored the goals that effectively relegated the Blues to the old Second Division.

"There was a period when Chelsea really were a good team, with Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke, Alan Hudson and people like that," said Perryman.

"I think I actually scored a goal that helped them get relegated in the 70s, which I can't take so much delight from, because a couple of years later we got relegated ourselves!