emotional | 

Ian Rush remembers a unique FA Cup final as he gives his verdict on Liverpool v Chelsea

Ian Rush (left) and John Aldridge in 1989

Kevin Palmer

AS Ian Rush gazed around Wembley ahead of kick-off in the 1989 FA Cup final, the Liverpool goalscoring great took in every moment of a unique sporting occasion.

Three years earlier, Rush found himself locked in his sporting zone as he lived out his boyhood dream of playing in what he still considers to be the "greatest game in English football".

Even though his two goals helped Liverpool beat Everton in the 1986 finale of this great competition, Rush admits he didn't fully take in everything that surrounded Cup Final day.

That changed when he got his second chance to shine, the striker who scored more goals than any other striker in Liverpool's illustrious history speaks with a passion that confirms that images of that day remain firmly in his mind.

Only a few weeks earlier, Rush and his team-mates had been visiting the injured victims and attending funerals for those caught up in the horrors of the Hillsborough tragedy, as 97 Liverpool fans went to the FA Cup semi-final and never returned home.

What followed was a sporting occasion that will never be repeated, as Merseyside came together for a Liverpool vs Everton final that was a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives at a tragedy that will never be forgotten.

"I was on the bench for that FA Cup final in 1989 because John Aldridge started, and I remember thinking this was a moment to sit back and take it all in," begins Rush, speaking at a Gambling.com event.

"When you are starting a match, you are focused on the job in hand and tend to block everything else out, but I remember thinking I'm going to try and change that in 1989.

"After everything that happened at Hillsborough, this was always going to be a very special FA Cup final, and I remember now sitting on the bench at Wembley and looking around in awe of the scenes.

"There was red and blue all over the stadium as they didn't have segregation of fans for that Cup Final, so I was thinking; if I come on a score here, which end do I run to if I want to celebrate with the Liverpool fans?

"You normally have the Liverpool end and the opposition end, but this was not a normal Cup final.

"This was Merseyside united, two teams putting rivalries aside to pay tribute to those we had lost and it was very special."

Rush believes next Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea is too close to call, as he is predicting it could be a Wembley classic.

"The FA Cup is a competition that will always be in my heart and any player from my generation would say the say," continues Rush.

"Modern day fans are interested in the Champions League or the Premier League and that's great, but I'm so excited to see Liverpool back in a position to win the FA Cup again.

"We have not won this competition since 2006 and that's far too long, so hopefully this is the day we end that wait."

Liverpool face a rematch of their Carabao Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley today and Rush believes the narrowness of their penalty shoot-out victory in that game is a prelude to what we can expect this afternoon.

"Chelsea will be looking for a bit of revenge today," he added. "That game came down to penalties and to win 11-10 in a shoot-out was unbelievable. It also highlighted how closely matched these two sides are and I would expect another very close game today.

"The matches between these two sides at Wembley back in February was probably the best 0-0 draw you will see as there were chances for both sides and three disallowed goals, so we can look forward to a great match.

"They say Liverpool and Manchester City are the two best teams in England right now, but look at what Chelsea did in the Champions League last season and it shows that they can raise their game and beat the best when it matters most.

"This has been a sensational season for Liverpool so far, but they will want to get another trophy in the cabinet and as the FA Cup is the one competition this team have yet to win, they will be desperate to put that right today."

Ian Rush was speaking at a Gambling.com event.

Today's Headlines

More Soccer

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices