West Ham United great Tony Cottee believes Carlton Cole could be the man to shoot the Hammers to promotion in Saturday's npower Championship Play-Off final.
Cottee, who bagged 146 goals in 336 games for the Club, has backed his fellow striker and England international to be the hero when West Ham take on Blackpool at Wembley.
In a revealing interview with whufc.com, the 46-year-old also talked about his memories of playing in five Wembley cup finals, representing England at the Home of Football and the threat posed by Ian Holloway's side this weekend.
Tony, we go into the Play-Off final on a good run of form, so are you confident we can get the job done against Blackpool?
TC - I think so. It's been a good run for us. We had a great run of form at the end of the season, didn't we? I was at the semi-final second leg against Cardiff and we won and I thought we played well. We played some good football, created chances and deservedly won 3-0. It was a fantastic two-legged performance, really, so I think all West Ham fans should go into the game confident. However, this is the Play-Off final and form doesn't mean anything like in any cup final. That's my only concern, that we might freeze or anything could happen. We could have bad luck or a sending-off. If you ask me if I think we are a better team than Blackpool, then of course I do and I'm expecting to win, but I'm not 100 per cent about it.
What do we have to do to beat a team like Blackpool who throw everything at you?
TC - For me, we need to nullify their two star players, who from what I've seen are Matty Phillips and Tom Ince. They are the two wide players. I don't think they are that sound defensively and they will concede goals, which is a positive for us, but up front and in midfield they are OK. We just need to stop those two wide players running at us. I watched their game against Birmingham and they looked very dangerous on the break. I don't know how Blackpool will play it, but they seem to only know one way and that's to go out and attack. If that's the case, it should make a for a great final.
Who do you think could be West Ham United's match-winner?
TC - I would say Carlton Cole, because if he performs then I think we will win the game. He is the guy who will lead the line. What he needs to do, like any good centre forward, is to hold the ball up and bring others into play. If he does that, it will be the key to it. On his day, Carlton probably deserves to be in the England squad, but we just haven't seen it consistently this season - for obvious reasons like getting relegated and that sort of stuff, and I get that. He's come into form and seems to have re-established himself as the No1 striker, which is great, so as much as we have other match-winners like Ricardo Vaz Te and Nicky Maynard, for me Carlton is the key.
You played at Wembley for club and country many times. What was the experience like for you?
TC - I'm a Club Wembley season ticket holder so I go to all the England games and as many other games as I can. I cannot believe it is 31 years since I went as a 15-year-old to the 1981 League Cup final just before I joined West Ham and that was the last time we played at Wembley. It feels like yesterday and I remember the emotion of Ray Stewart rolling the ball in the corner and Ray Clemence going the wrong way (Stewart equalised with a last-minute penalty). We were all saying 'Just smash it Ray!' and he just rolled it into the corner, which was fantastic. It's been a long, long time. I've said consistently this season that, forgetting everything else, the West Ham fans deserve a day out at Wembley. A lot of people said we didn't want to go into the Play-Offs but this way the fans get a day out. I'm so pleased for them and I just hope we can finish it off with a victory.
What was the Wembley highlight of your playing career?
TC - I played in the 1989 FA Cup final for Everton but we didn't win the game [against Liverpool] and personally I didn't play very well. I probably enjoyed the League Cup final for Leicester when we beat Tranmere in 2000. I played in five Wembley finals - one FA Cup, two League Cup and two Full Members Cup - and lost four and won one, so the one we won is the memory. Obviously playing for England was a great thrill for me, but the final we won was just a real great feeling to win a tournament. This Saturday, it's all very well having a great day out, but if we lose it will be a horrible feeling.