John Harkes on scoring THAT goal, winning the cup final and why his time at Sheffield Wednesday were 'the best days of his career'
“What are you going to do now Harkes? Retire?”; that was the question sarcastically posed to former Owls midfielder John Harkes by team mates Nigel Pearson and John Sheridan after a whirlwind first seven months in English football.
The American, plucked from the relative obscurity of the pre-MLS America Soccer League system, had scored the goal of the season and beaten Manchester United 1-0 to win the 1991 Rumbelows Cup final.
“They said I’d done more in seven months than most footballers do in ten years,” said a nostalgic Harkes.
“Now you think what the heck happened, how quick was that train ride.
“You want it to last forever. Those are the moments you want to last forever and ever.”
It was that thunderbolt goal in a 1990 match against Derby County that he is perhaps best remembered for, one moment among 164 appearances in English football for the Owls, the Rams themselves and finally West Ham.
Harkes, now 52 and manager of US League One outfit Greenville Triumph in South Carolina, admits it was a goal he knew little about at the time.
“I don’t know what happened there,” he told The Athletic. “Maradona had the Hand of God, I guess that was the Foot of God for me.
“I pushed it forward, nobody came to step to me and there was just a natural instinct to go and strike the ball and I did it.
“Sometimes you just let go and have those moments. I was very fortunate to have that moment.”
Harkes said that the goal comes second in his mind to the one he scored in the 1993 League Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley and described his 82-game stint at Hillsborough as the best of his career.
He added: “It was the best time of my life, to be honest.
“When I look back, it helped me grow on the field, working under Ron Atkinson. He believed in me, he was a great mentor, he had a great balance.
“Enjoying the hard work that you put into it, having fun and growing from there — I wanted to stay at Wednesday for ten years if I could.”