Cahill: I'll bury memory of semi shame
Published 22:30 14/04/12 By Steve Stammers
Gary Cahill will head to Wembley determined to exorcise the most humiliating day of his career.
Just 12 months ago, the England international defender was part of an
in-form Bolton team widely expected to beat Stoke and reach their first FA Cup final since 1958.
But Bolton endured a torrid Sunday at Wembley. They were 3-0 down by half-time and ended up losing the big game 5-0.
That marked a decline in form that has continued this season. Even though Cahill moved to Stamford Bridge for £7million in January, his old club have never really shaken off the shattering blow of their Wembley debacle.
That’s why Cahill is keen to prove he has endured no terminal damage from that Sunday of shame.
Cahill, 26, said: “If we had lost 1-0, I would have been gutted. But the way we lost made it hurt even more.
“It was a disaster result. Not a great memory. You are so close and you want to make the final. You are within touching distance. It hurt me for a while but it made me stronger.
“And when I was there
at Wembley to watch the final as a young Aston Villa player we lost to Chelsea, too.
“In fact, that is the only final I have been to.”
But he is more optimistic about his chances on this Wembley trip.
“I’m hoping the result will be a lot different this time,” he said.
“Last year’s semi-final was a strange game because we were in good form.
“Everyone had an off-day on the same day. It was a freak result and obviously there are no fond memories for me. I hope I can make amends this time around.
“I think we followed it up immediately by beating Arsenal but I would rather have swapped those results around.
“It was disappointing for everyone – the fans and the players.”
Cahill’s chance of finding compensatory glory came with his move to Stamford Bridge but for many of his old Bolton team-mates, there has been no such reprieve.
He went on: “For many of the lads, it was their one shot at getting to a cup final.”
Cahill is relishing the challenge ahead, with today’s big game being quickly followed by the two legs of the Champions League semi-finals against Barcelona.
“Yes, it has been good for me. I have moved to a new club and you want to adapt. I feel I am doing that,” he said.
In normal circumstances, the prospect of Barcelona would have captured the entire attention of the club. The clash with Spurs has ensured that the focus has been solely on Wembley.
“Because of the build-up to the Spurs game, with it being a London derby, that will take the lads’ minds off Barcelona,” Cahill explained.
“It is a massive game for us at Wembley and a great chance to get to the final and win some silverware. And after Tottenham come Barca.
“Obviously we are aware of what the two semis mean.”
Cahill was impressed with the way Barcelona dispatched AC Milan in the quarter-final on the eve of Chelsea’s win over Benfica.
But he insists he is not intimidated by the reigning champions of Europe.
“They are beatable, for sure,” he said. “Every team is beatable. But the way they play is phenomenal. I watched them against Milan – they scored three, but could have had six, against a fantastic team.
“It will be physically demanding because of the short gap between matches. But we are ready for it.”