As a student at J. Reuben Clark Law School in Utah, Jim Phipps grew up in an environment more obsessed by the oval-ball style of football than the round one.
But after becoming involved with Sheffield United, the affable American has developed a love of the ‘real’ football - which peaked at Wembley last season, as United reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
The road to Wembley begins again for United - who are, of course, in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup, too - on Sunday, when they travel to London to take on Premier League side Queens Park Rangers.
Although the meeting with Harry Redknapp’s side would not have been Nigel Clough’s preferred tie, his side will travel south without any fear after an incredible giantkilling run against sides from higher divisions.
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That run saw the likes of Aston Villa, Fulham, Nottingham Forest and Charlton Athletic put to the sword by Clough’s charges before a brave semi-final defeat to Hull City, and United co-chairman Phipps said: “Wembley was definitely the most memorable moment since I came here. I spent the week in London with some family, and the whole day was so special.
“My abiding memory is when the last Hull goal went in to make it 5-3 and our fans started a standing ovation that lasted until the players left the field. That was a really, really special moment.
“The game had special meaning for everyone... people had waited so long to see their club score at Wembley. I’d spent a week or so in London with my family, took in some theatre and the like, but the game was definitely the crowning glory of the trip.
“Hopefully it can be done again this year, although the priority is still automatic promotion. Everyone is still committed to that goal and we will do all we can do to make that happen.”
Meanwhile Clough, who failed in his bid to get Chris Basham’s suspension overturned following his Boxing Day red card at Port Vale, placed “people capable of making a difference in both penalty areas” at the top of his wanted list after being critical of United’s “attention to detail” during that 2-1 defeat.
Clough, who is also poised to open talks aimed at extending Chris O’Grady’s loan from Brighton and Hove Albion, said: “What we are looking for is players, people, who will make a difference in both penalty areas. We created two or three excellent chances at Port Vale, through good football, and we didn’t take them.
“When you go away from home, it’s unlikely that you are going to get nine or 10 good openings.
“But you will, providing you play well, usually get two or three.
“We did that and some of them just had to be taken.”