Collins ready for FA Cup glory

James Collins has enjoyed many memorable moments at West Ham United during his lengthy spell at the Boleyn Ground – but the Ginger Pele still has one painful memory that he is determined to get out of his system.

Collins is still plagued by the FA Cup Final defeat against Liverpool back in 2006 after the Hammers came within seconds of winning their first piece of major silverware since 1980.

Few could forget the events that unfolded at the Millennium Stadium when West Ham were leading 3-2 heading into injury time and Steven Gerrard broke the hearts of the Hammers supporters when he fired an unstoppable shot past Shaka Hislop into the corner of the net to force the game into extra-time.

Liverpool ended up winning 3-1 on penalties and it was a moment that Collins, who was on the substitutes bench that day, has failed to get out of his system.

Collins said: “It is still one of the biggest disappointments of my career not winning the FA Cup that season. We had a great run and got to the final.

“We had some great games leading up to the final and obviously the game against Middlesbrough in the semi-final at Villa Park was massive when we won 1-0.

“Being in Cardiff for the Final was massive for my family and a special day but gutted overall to have lost it. We did so well during the game and to lose on penalties was disastrous. It is still something I think about every time I play in the Cup.

“If you look back at the game and that moment at the end, you just want Lionel Scaloni to let the ball run out for a throw-in and it is game over.

“But unfortunately he has hooked it into the middle of the pitch and everyone knows what happened next.

“I remember sitting on the bench next to Matthew Etherington who came off and saying 'we have won the FA Cup – it is unbelievable'. Fate took it's course and of course we lost it in the end.”

Collins knows he can put things right by steering West Ham to FA Cup glory this season and feels it would be the perfect ending for the Hammers as they prepare to leave the Boleyn Ground during the summer.

The 32-year-old believes the Club are genuine contenders to go all the way and believes they have enough quality in the squad to compete against any team.

Collins added: “Any opportunity to win the FA Cup is massive, but to do it in our final ever season at the Boleyn Ground would be incredible. It would be a great journey for both the players and the fans.

“I think this is one of our best chances to win it and this is certainly the strongest squad we have had for a long time.

“If the manager wants to make changes early on we can still field a very strong time. The players who have not been playing recently are itching to get some game time and they will do just as good a job as the ones who have been playing.

“It is a good time for us and we are doing better in the league than we normally do at this stage. We had a good Christmas with result and there is every chance we can do well in the FA Cup.

“Wolves will be wanting to do well against a Premier League side but we are in a rich vein of form at the moment and are playing well and can hopefully get another good result on Saturday.”