MY FAVOURITE GAMES: YOSSI BENAYOUN
Answering ChelseaFC.com's request to trawl through his football memories for our on-going summer feature, the Israeli international highlights the sport's oldest competition and one of its biggest club fixtures…
Favourite game played
There aren't many surveyed in the My Favourite Games series who select a match that ends in defeat as the most memorable game they played in, and even less so a major cup final, but that is the category under which Yossi Benayoun's choice falls. It dates back to his West Ham days.
'It was a sad end but it was my favourite game anyway,' he begins to explain.
'It is the FA Cup Final when I played with West Ham against Liverpool because it was a great game - 3-3 in a final. People say it was one of the best finals. It was also one of my best games even though it finished badly.'
The year was 2006, the last FA Cup Final to be played at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium prior to the reopening of Wembley. The underdogs from east London were 2-0 up with half an hour played with Jamie Carragher having scored one of his own goals and Dean Ashton netting for the Hammers.
Djibril Cisse pulled one back and Steven Gerrard equalised for Liverpool but Paul Konchesky made it 3-2 to West Ham with 64 minutes played, only for Gerrard to take the game into extra time with a last-minute strike. Liverpool won the eventual penalty shoot-out 3-1. Benayoun had been denied by a Pepe Reina save when his side were 2-1 up. He joined Liverpool a year later.
'When I got to Liverpool I spoke about the game to the players there such as Stevie Gerrard who scored two great goals, but I think we were the better team. Everyone expected Liverpool to win but we played better. Hopefully one day I will win the FA Cup.'
Favourite game watched
'The FA Cup Finals in England were great games to watch when I was young in Israel,' says Benayoun. 'They were big games there but in Israel they showed the Spanish games and the English games and what I remember more is the time when Romario, [Hristo] Stoichkov and [Michael] Laudrup played together for Barcelona.
'They showed Barcelona v Real Madrid live in Israel and I have always loved the game between them when Romario scored a hat-trick and Barcelona won 5-0.'
The match selected by Benayoun predated this season's 5-0 victory for the home side in Camp Nou by more than 15 years. On a Saturday evening in January 1994, Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team' were at their peak.
Romario would be the star of Brazil's World Cup win a few months later and he opened the scoring for his club against their biggest rivals with brilliant close control. Ronald Koeman hit a trademark free-kick before Romario found the target twice ahead of Ivan Iglesias adding the icing on the cake.