Danny still recovering from Gerrard brilliance

Danny Gabbidon admits he is still haunted by the memory of Steven Gerrard's last-minute wonder-goal that denied Hammers FA Cup glory at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The Welsh international defender was the last player to touch the ball before the Liverpool midfielder unleashed his 36-yard bullet - heading the ball clear from the edge of the penalty area to what he thought was relative safety - and reveals that the incident has been playing over and over in his mind all week.

"It was a great game to be involved in," says Danny, "but the way we lost makes it all a bit hard to swallow. We were so close to winning the game, and all I keep seeing in my mind is that goal from Steven Gerrard!

"I headed it out and I think Yossi tried to take another swipe at it but missed. The ball carried on rolling out and, when I looked up and saw him running on to it, I was a bit worried. As he hit it, I kind of knew it had half a chance, but it was an unbelievable strike and something that only he was capable of.

"He was the difference on the day, there's no doubt about that. If he'd been playing for us, we would have won convincingly and, if he hadn't been playing at all, I think we still would have won.

"It was going to take something special like that to beat us, and then we still had chances to win it, with the ball hitting the post and then falling to Marlon on one leg! I suppose it's that kind of drama that makes the FA Cup so special, and there is definitely some consolation that we were involved in one of the greatest finals of all time."

And with visions of world class Liverpool captains hopefully beginning to fade in the coming weeks, Danny and his team-mates will no doubt look back with pride on their contribution, and build a platform that will stand them in good stead for next season.

"We'll get on with it and hopefully use the experience to make us stronger next year," he says. "We've had a great season but the important thing is that we don't rest on our laurels or become complacent - because next season is going to be just as tough.

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"We want to build on our success and improve. We've got European football to look forward to, which is going to be a great experience, and if Middlesbrough can get to the UEFA Cup final, then we can see that as a realistic target.

"It would also be nice to go one better in the FA Cup next season, and win the trophy - hopefully at the new Wembley. There is a lot to play for and I think everyone here can be very excited about the future."

After a long and arduous season that ended with him picking up the Hammer of the Year award, Danny should be looking forward to a well-earned summer rest now, but must first head off for a spell of national team duty with Wales.

The 26-year-old has met up with his international colleagues for a tour to Spain that will take in friendlies against a Basque representative side and Shaka Hislop's World Cup-bound Trinidad and Tobago, and admits he is looking forward to eventually putting his feet up for a few weeks.

"It's been a long season," he says, "and all the boys have had to put a lot of effort in. Everyone at the Club can take credit for the success we have had this year

"It's always an honour to represent my country and I'm sure it will be a enjoyable trip but, I've got to admit, I'm looking forward to a good rest once it is out of the way.

"It will be nice to recharge the batteries and relax on holiday before coming back for pre-season raring to go again."