JOHN Sheridan is set to reach a double landmark in his distinguished career.
Tomorrow sees the 20th anniversary of his Wembley glory with Sheffield Wednesday.
This Easter weekend he is likely to clinch promotion as manager of Chesterfield.
His winning goal and the Owls’ 1-0 victory against Manchester United in the 1991 League Cup Final provided the highlight of his playing career.
Taking the Spireites up will be his best feat as a manager - so far.
The Hillsborough legend insists that, at 46, he is still learning.
“It’s early days in management for me; I feel as if I’m doing okay,” he said.
A down-to-earth Mancunian, he has has never been one to blow his own trumpet - whether he has been constructing a top-of-the table side for the Spireites, bossing midfield for Wednesday in the Premier League, or scoring in a final when the League Cup was a far more prestigious competition than it is today.
The Owls, then in the old Second Division, were underdogs on April 21 1991, but earned their only major trophy of the last 76 years thanks to a wonderful team effort, crowned by Sheridan’s 38th-minute strike.
Nigel Worthington swung a free-kick into the box, Nigel Pearson’s challenge resulted in Gary Pallister only heading the ball a short distance, and from 22 yards Sheridan hit a sweet half-volley that went in off the inside of the post.
“I wouldn’t say it was a great game,” he recalls.
“What I remember most is the support we had on the way into the ground. It was unbelievable. Wembley Way was blue and white, and inside the ground the fans really got behind us.
“We started the game really well. Lee Sharpe was probably their main player, at the time, but Roland Nilsson kept him quiet. We matched them, got the goal and it gave us something to hang on to.
“Other than Chris Turner’s save from a header by Brian McClair, we kept them out, and they were a very good team - they beat Barcelona in the European Cup Winners Cup final a few days later.
“You have to give credit to our team. We were a league below them but I think we had players who were First Division players. We played well and deserved to win.
“The goal? The ball came out to me and I hit it sweetly. People say they can remember hearing the ball ping off the post.
“I played in the World Cup for the Republic of Ireland in Italy. But for a Manchester lad, playing against Manchester United in a cup final, when a lot of my mates were supporting the other team, was a big thing. To win and score was a great feeling.”
Sheridan learned things from his manager of those times, Ron Atkinson, which he has put into practice at Chesterfield. He also took Oldham to the play-offs.
“In my eyes, it’s about making the game as simple as possible,” he said.
“I’m a big believer in man management; Ron Atkinson, who I really respected, was the best. It’s about treating players right and hopefully you’ll get the best out of them and they’ll reward you with performances.”
Big Ron famously relaxed his players before the final by having comedian Stan Boardman crack jokes on the team bus on the way to Wembley.
dan added: “It’s a hard
game, management. You can never beat playing. If I do achieve something as a manager, I’ll give myself a pat on the back and the people who work around me; it’s not just about me.
“Obviously I’ll take the plaudits if they come my way, but I’m not one of those people who gets carried away. If we’re successful I’ll enjoy it. I like a laugh and a joke but I try to keep my feet on the ground.”
The final teams:
OWLS: Turner; Nilsson, Pearson, Shirtliff, King; Harkes (Madden 88), Wilson, Sheridan, Worthington; Hirst, Williams. Unused sub: Francis.
MAN UTD: Sealey; Irwin, Bruce, Pallister, Blackmore; Webb (Phelan 56), Robson, Ince, Sharpe; McClair, Hughes. Unused sub: Donaghy.