Premier League XIs: Their country’s first FA Cup champions
Date published: Saturday 23rd May 2020 11:52
Last season Riyad Mahrez became the first Algerian to win the FA Cup. This weekend could’ve potentially seen Leicester City’s Caglar Soyuncu become the first Turkish player to do so. Here’s an XI made up from those who were the first of their countrymen to lift the famous old trophy.
Goalkeeper: Bruce Grobbelaar
Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar made history in 1986 as the first player from Zimbabwe to lift the cup. Erik Thorsvedt, Tottenham’s goalkeeper in the nascent Premier League seasons, became the first Norwegian to win the FA Cup back in 1991, beating Chelsea’s Frode Grodas by six years. Alex Manninger was the first Austrian to win the competition and Jerzy Dudek was the first from Poland.
Right-back: Branislav Ivanovic
Chelsea’s Serbian hero Branislav Ivanovic became the first of his countrymen to win the cup back in 2009. Another former Chelsea player made history over a decade earlier, with P-Team star Dan Petrescu the first Romanian player to lift the trophy in 1997. Arsenal’s right-back Lauren was another history maker, as the first winner from Cameroon.
Centre-back: Vincent Kompany
Manchester City’s inspirational captain Vincent Kompany led his side to an FA Cup win in 2011, the first time the club had won the trophy in over 40 years. Kompany became the first Belgian player to win the competition at the same time, beating his talented national team-mates Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne to the honour.
Centre-back: Sami Hyypia
Another famous captain who lifted the FA Cup, Liverpool’s Sami Hyypia became the first player from Finland to win the trophy in 2001. Hyypia’s centre-back partner in that game was Stephane Henchoz, who became the first player from Switzerland to win the competition in the same game.
Left-back: Hermann Hreidarsson
Portsmouth’s FA Cup win in 2008 resulted in Herman Hreidarsson becoming the first Icelandic player to lift the trophy, with Eidur Gudjohnsen leaving Chelsea one year before the club’s victory over Manchester United in 2007. Other record-breaking defenders include Kolo Toure, Oleg Luzhny, Roger Espinoza, Emmerson Boyce and Antolin Alcaraz.
Right-wing: Andrei Kanchelskis
Manchester United’s Russian winger Andrei Kanchelskis became the first of his countrymen to win the FA Cup back in 1994, with the Red Devils thrashing Chelsea 4-0 in the final. Goalkeeper Dmitri Kharine would’ve taken the honour if the Blues had won instead. Another former United player is eligible for the team, with Antonio Valenica the first Ecuadorian to win the competition.
Central midfield: Michael Essien
Chelsea did get some FA Cup final revenge over Manchester United in the 2000s, defeating the Red Devils by a goal to nil in 2007. Michael Essien became the first Ghanian to win the competition that year and helped to prevent Nemanja Vidic from becoming the first Serbian to do so. Roberto Di Matteo scored in two FA Cup finals for Chelsea but wasn’t a unique Italian winner, with the majestic Gianfranco Zola also lifting the trophy in 1997.
Central midfield: Gus Poyet
Poyet was the only player from Uruguay on the pitch when Chelsea won the cup in 2000, becoming the first of his countrymen to win the trophy. Nayim, former Spurs player and scourge of Arsenal, was the first of many Spaniards to lift the trophy back in 1991. Niko Kranjcar became the first Croatian to win the cup in 2008 as part of Portsmouth’s victorious side and Arsenal’s Edu was the first Brazilian to triumph.
Left-wing: Riyad Mahrez
Mahrez put Algeria on the map in FA Cup history last year, nearly 60 years after Wolves’ South African star Des Horne became the first player from the continent to lift the trophy. Bill Perry, scorer of the winning goal in the 1953 ‘Matthews Final’, pre-dated Horne but the South African-born player represented England at international level. Anders Limpar is another winger who made history, becoming the first Swede to lift the trophy in 1995 with Everton, having missed out on Arsenal’s 1993 triumph during his stay in London.
Striker: Eric Cantona
The influential star became the first of his countryman to lift the FA Cup in 1994, just two years after he became the first Frenchman to win the Premier League title. Another former Manchester United player made history in 1999, with Dwight Yorke the first from Trinidad and Tobago to win the cup. Edin Dzeko is the first Bosnian, Daniel Amokachi the first Nigerian and Christopher Wreh the first Liberian, beating George Weah to that honour by two years.
Striker: Cristiano Ronaldo
Scorer of the opening goal in the 2004 FA Cup final, Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player from Portugal to win the cup after Manchester United’s victory. Some older players who made history for their country include Arnold Muhren as the first Dutch player, Ardiles and Villa as the first Argentineans, George Robledo as the first Chilean, Jesper Olsen as the first Dane and Bert Trautmann as the first German.
James Wiles – whose Instagram has a whole load more XIs
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