In 1995, Steve McManaman entered Wembley folklore.
The Bootle born Liverpool star, one of England's greatest exports, churned out a breathtaking man of the match performance to clinch a record fifth League Cup win for his hometown club.
Liverpool had not won a trophy for three years. It was the longest trophyless stretch since the early 1970s. Liverpool’s opponents that day were Bruce Rioch’s Bolton Wanderers.
Rioch’s men had a formidable reputation as one of the best teams outside the top flight. They were favourites to be promoted to the top flight, which they achieved by the end of the season.
The Trotters had a strong spine and were a very difficult team to beat. Evertonian Alan Stubbs stingily marshalled the rearguard, whilst soon to be Liverpool star Jason McAteer and Alan Thompson provided the tigerish cut and thrust in midfield. Old timer John McGinley provided the goals up front.
Bolton were not overawed by the encounter, especially after having knocked both Merseyside giants out of the FA Cup the previous year.
Assisted by John Barnes, 23-year-old McManaman waltzed through the opponent’s backline before beating Keith Branagan with a composed finish.
On 68 minutes Shaggy received a pass from Jamie Redknapp on the left side of midfield. Immediately the wiry winger cut in, beating two defenders before caressing the ball into the goal for 2-0.
Thompson’s left foot threatened, and whilst there was a lot of huff and puff from McAteer Liverpool closed the game to secure Roy Evans first trophy as Liverpool manager. With Ian Rush lifting the silverware the win has become Liverpool’s last visit to Wembley.
Macca was named man of the match and trudged off with a winner’s medal, the Alan Hardaker trophy and loud claps from the gallery ringing in his ears.
The performance was hailed as a masterclass and there were comparisons made with the wizard of the dribble. The late Sir Stanley Mathews selected McManaman as his man of the match and proclaimed: "He reminds me of me when
"I was playing... I wish there were more dribblers like him."
Macca went on to enjoy an illustrious career. He was singled out by Dutchman Louis Van Gaal and during an interview at Euro 2000 Pele said: "Four year's ago when England were the hosts, McManaman was one of the players who impressed me most in the tournament.
"He had great pace and skill and wasn't afraid to take defenders on and beat them. I love to see that in a player, and so do the fans."
Having graced arenas such as the Santiago Bernabeu, the ex-Real Madrid star spoke to Click Liverpool this week: "It's vitally important for a big team like Liverpool with its huge history to get into the final.
"It's great for the fans to be back at Wembley and great for Kenny in the 13 months since he took over to reach a final without a shadow of a doubt.
"I don't think it's necessarily an obsession. At the beginning of every season there's only three tournaments to play for and sometimes the league, because of people's spending power now, is beyond some teams so really the cup competitions are important for people to go and win.
"The fact that Liverpool have got there and are doing so well in the FA Cup I think speaks volumes.
"It shows that they're on the right track and gives all the fans a lift because the last couple of years have not been as successful as they have been before."
"When you're young and you start going to football matches, the dream is of your team getting to Wembley. I was lucky I went numerous times with my father and I adored it," he added.
"To reach it as a player, win, and give the fans a trophy that they all deserve is everything. Being there as a fan and as a player is incredibly fulfilling and I know it's a huge, huge occasion.
"Hopefully Liverpool will go on and win it and make it the perfect day."
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