FA Cup: Wishing you were here Nan, is Meyler’s message
WEMBLEY is a place where dreams are made and hearts can be broken.
Twas always thus at a stadium where so many of English football’s iconic moments have taken place, ranging from 1966 and Sir Geoff Hurst through to the famous Cup finals that made this corner of north west London the true ‘Venue of Legends’.
For David Meyler, his first visit as a player was one to savour with the Irishman netting the final goal in last month’s semi-final triumph against Sheffield United.
Ahead of tomorrow’s return, however, the 24-year-old admits that his heart has already been broken.
“My Nan won’t come across to the final,” explains Meyler, who had revealed ahead of the Blades encounter how his beloved grandmother had never seen him play a professional match.
“I went over on Mother’s Day and went out with her and my Mum for a meal. My Nan said, ‘David, you can send a plane over to take me to the final when you beat Sheffield United?’
“But now she won’t come. She has broken my heart by saying ‘no’. She is 81 and that is old. And that meant she didn’t really fancy it. That has broken my heart. And she knows she has broken it.”
Meyler is, of course, happy for his grandmother to watch the final where she will be happiest. And if that has to be back home in Ireland then so be it, especially as the midfielder almost missed out on playing altogether in the final following a clash with Manchester United winger Adnan Januzaj a little over a week ago.
With just a couple of minutes remaining of what had been a largely moribund clash in which City’s minds were clearly on Wembley, Meyler suddenly tackled the teenage Belgian international near the goal-line.
As the ball broke in Meyler’s favour, the Irishman then looked to stamp on Januzaj.
After the game, Steve Bruce looked genuinely non-plussed when asked about the incident. However, after taking time to study a video replay, the Tigers manager became concerned that a ban could follow if the Football Association launched an investigation.
There was, therefore, much relief at the KC Stadium the following afternoon when the FA confirmed that no further action would be taken because referee Craig Pawson had seen the incident during the match and decided to take no action.
A relieved Bruce then withdrew Meyler, no stranger to controversy this season after Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew head-butted the midfielder, from the final day game with Everton.
The explanation from the Tigers chief was to “wrap David in cotton wool” but there is no denying it also removed any risk of further problems.
It was a sensible precaution, especially with Meyler having developed into one of City’s most reliable performers this season.
Meyler said: “The season has gone really well and I have enjoyed it. The aim was to stay up and we achieved that. And then there is the Cup final.”
His priority now is adding Arsenal to City’s list of Cup victims as Steve Bruce’s men look to make history. And if victory can come with Meyler on the scoresheet for the third consecutive round then all the better.
Meyler said: “The night before the semi-final, everyone had been saying, ‘You will score tomorrow’. So, when the opportunity comes along, you can’t snatch at it.
“Sheffield United had just made it 4-3 out of nothing. I thought, ‘I can’t face extra-time here as I haven’t got anything left in the tank’.
“Thankfully, Elmo (Ahmed Elmohamady) picked the ball up. Anyone else wouldn’t have played me in.
“But Elmo did and I managed to finish it. I felt really calm. The pressure in a situation didn’t affect me. You have to show maturity in a situation like that.
“I took a touch with my left, looked up and put it across the ’keeper. It was similar to Sunderland in the quarters but I would swap them both for one in the final. That said, though, they both proved crucial in our run so maybe I shouldn’t be greedy.
“The second against Sunderland put us with a foot through the door with 20 minutes to go and then with Sheffield United it finished everything off. It was a massive relief for everyone.
“At 4-2, the game had looked dead and buried. But then they scored so it was a big relief when I saw my shot go in. There was no way they were going to do a Manchester United in 1999 and get two goals in stoppage time. We were in the final.”