Konch ready to live the dream at Cardiff

This time last year, Paul Konchesky was about to head to Cardiff to support his beloved West Ham United in the play-off final against Preston North End.

Now, 12 months on, he will be stepping out onto the turf at the Millennium Stadium to play for the Hammers in Saturday's FA Cup final showdown with Liverpool.

"This is the first FA Cup final for most of us and it's going to be a great day," insists Barking-born Konch, who will be roared on by some two-dozen travelling members of his family.

"Our weekend win over Tottenham has really given us a great boost and, hopefully we can now go and get the right result at Cardiff.

"We all wanted the Spurs game to be played and it's given us a lot of confidence to have beaten what, in my eyes, was their strongest team.

"The crowd were fantastic at Upton Park and, if the players give it their all and the fans give it their all, too, then we've got a great chance of getting our names on the FA Cup.

"Everyone knows how West Ham fans are on the big days, they're like our 12th man. And we're certainly not bothered about being the underdogs, either, because we've got a great opportunity to win this final and the spirit in the camp can show through on Saturday.

"It's been a tough year for us because we all came into the season as favourites to be relegated but we've held our own.

"West Ham have got to the FA Cup final and we've qualified for Europe next season, too. We've had an unbelievable year and, hopefully, we can do even better next time around."

And while the twice-capped England international may just have missed the cut for Sven-Goran Eriksson's 2006 World Cup squad, he knows that good performances on both the domestic and European stages could prove the launch-pad for renewed international recognition next term.

"I've just got to concentrate on doing well for West Ham first," he insists. "But, hopefully, Steve McClaren will now give me another chance alongside any other English player and, with a bit of luck, I'll get my opportunity next year."