Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool are three outstanding teams in the history of the FA Cup, having won it 30 times between them.
But which players’ individual performances for these teams stand out among all others? Let’s take a look…
With 12 FA Cups to their name, Arsenal are the most successful club in the history of the competition. With this in mind, many players have had great performances during their many different cup runs.
Perhaps the standout performance was that of Charlie George in 1971. This is year that the Gunners won the league and cup double for the first time in their history.
The 20-year-old attacking midfielder scored vital goals for Arsenal in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth rounds of the FA Cup of 1970-71. Yet it was George’s memorable goal in the Final in a 2-1 win over Liverpool for which he is best remembered.
Thierry Henry also had some great performances in the FA Cup. He was a member of the 2001-02 double-winning team and played brilliantly throughout that season.
Yet arguably his standout FA Cup performance was during a four-match return to the Emirates on loan in 2012, after five years away.
Coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute of the Third Round match against Leeds, Henry went on to score the only goal of the game 10 minutes later.
If his status as a Gunners legend was ever in doubt before, it certainly wasn’t after that.
As 11-time FA Cup winners, Manchester United have also seen some great individual performances.
In the Third Round of the 1990 FA Cup, United were up against Nottingham Forest. Under Alex Ferguson, the Red Devils were struggling and many thought Forest the favourites in the match.
Yet Mark Robins came off the bench late in the match to score the only goal and put United through. Many believe this to be a pivotal in both Ferguson’s career and the history of Manchester United.
At the time, the press were speculating that Ferguson would lose his job if United didn’t win. But they did, and went on to win the FA Cup that year.
The Scotsman became the most decorated manager in English football and was given a knighthood to boot.
Other standout performances for United include Eric Cantona’s wonderful through-volley in the 1996 Final against Liverpool, and Ryan Giggs’ late goal against Arsenal in the 1999 Semi-Final.
Both of these performances were historic for United. In 1996, they became the first English team to win two league and cup doubles in their history due largely to Cantona. In 1999, Giggs’ amazing late winner against Arsenal was arguably the pivotal moment in the club’s famous treble that year.
Liverpool have won the FA Cup seven times, with their most notable tournament win coming in the 1985-86 season, where the Merseyside club completed a league and cup double.
During Liverpool’s first FA Cup win in 1965 against Leeds, Gerry Byrne played the Final with a broken collar bone, having collided with the Leeds captain after just five minutes of play!
Byrne also played an important part in Roger Hunt’s first goal for Liverpool in extra-time, and the Reds went on to win the game 2-1.
Steven Gerrard’s performance in the 2006 Final against West Ham also stands out a mile. Liverpool were 3-2 down in the dying minutes of injury time when Gerrard hit the ball on the half volley from 35 yards out and it went screaming into the goal.
Liverpool won the game after a gripping penalty shootout.
This trio of legendary FA Cup teams stand head and shoulders above the rest of the country in terms of the sheer amount of tournament wins between them.
And while football is a team game, just sometimes, a cup win can come down to the performance of one player alone. Whether it’s a Giggs, Henry, or Gerrard goal that separates the teams come the final whistle, those are the names that will be etched in the minds of fans, despite the whole team’s name on the trophy.