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Roberto Di Matteo


Guest Brian M

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Guest Brian M

Roberto Di Magico - two Cup Final moments Chelsea fans will never forget

Mon, Aug 20, 07 07:57 Tony Forder

He scored the fastest-ever goal in a Wembley final - and also the very last at the old stadium. Is it really seven years since Roberto Di Matteo's career was cruelly ended by injury?

Leading up to the FA Cup Final last season, there were a lot of reminders that Roberto Di Matteo had scored the fastest-ever FA Cup Final goal - and had also netted the last Cup Final goal at the old Wembley Stadium.

I have great memories of both games. Winning in 1997 against Middlesbrough gave the Blues our first major trophy in 26 years, and when Robbie smashed that opener in just 42 seconds I nearly put my head through the living-room ceiling.*

Winning the last Cup Final at Wembley was an honour, made all the sweeter because it was against a good friend's team. Robbie's scrappy goal in a dreadful game won it for us, and it was a proud moment when Dennis Wise went up to collect the Cup.

But what I hadn't remembered was that just four months after winning that Cup for us, on a cold night in St Gallen in Switzerland, the land of his birth, Robbie received the injury that ended his career - a leg broken in three places. Though he would not retire for a further 18 months, he played his last game that night in September 2000. It's almost impossible for me to believe that it is seven years since he pulled on that blue top and stepped out onto the Stamford Bridge pitch, because in my mind's eye I can see him quite clearly.

Di Matteo, who won 34 caps for Italy, was a footballing artist, a casual-looking smooth and silky player who did all the simple things well and was a beautiful passer of the ball. He scored several cracking goals as well, but was known mostly for just keeping the midfield ticking over and threading pinpoint passes in behind any defence for on-running players.

He's a Chelsea legend. Such a shame that his career was ended prematurely, and such a shame that the mind plays such dirty tricks sometimes.

*Brian M edit: that was me! I distinctly remember I was still standing up in the upstairs lounge of my house serving pizza to my mates who were around watching the game on the big TV when...

GOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!

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