When Sol went up to lift the Cup...

Sol Campbell lifts the FA Cup at Wembley in May 2008.

Sol Campbell lifts the FA Cup at Wembley in May 2008.

Pompey fans on Southsea Common during the celebration after winning the FA Cup in 2008

Thousands expected as Southsea Common to hold Pompey promotion party

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It was the glorious day when Pompey were crowned FA Cup champions.

May 17, 2008 - the events didn’t require explanation and justification, the pictures remain safely stored in everyone’s mind.

Sharp, focused and very much in full glorious technicolour.

You see, words cannot possibly do any justice to what unfolded against Cardiff City.

Whether a member of those 25,000 joyous Pompey fans at Wembley or the 70,000 who flocked to Southsea Common, we all witnessed scenes which will never be forgotten.

For far too long the FA Cup had been absent – and how sweet that moment of triumph tasted once it returned.

Come the final whistle, grown men were in tears, caught up in the torrent of emotion cascading down from those 107 steps as Sol Campbell lifted the famous old trophy.

Invariably, the song proudly recapping that glorious moment echoed around the streets of Portsmouth long into the night amid the joyous post-match celebrations.

The hangover-induced Sunday morning may have sapped the urge to sing, but those bleary eyes could still see that delicious moment.

Just think back and the visions are as vivid as ever – Kanu’s miss, Kanu’s goal, David Nugent’s shot, the final whistle, Campbell raising the Cup, Harry Redknapp raising the Cup.

And who could quite forget the phenomenal, heart-warming sight of Linvoy Primus lofting the trophy high above his head?

Admit it, it brings a lump to the throat even now.

It had been achieved by a group of players who in the previous four matches had been accused of not caring, of allowing themselves to become distracted.

Pockets of supporters even vented their spleen during that Fulham Wembley warm-up, showering them with vitriol and boos after another desperately disappointing display.

On Saturday, those very same bunch of players cared alright – each and every one of them.

In the glare of the world’s television cameras, the sentimental outpouring among these sporting millionaires equalled anything gushing around the terraces.

There was Campbell, an England international who has won Premier League titles and the FA Cup previously with Arsenal, with tears welling in his eyes.

Coach Joe Jordan, a well-grounded Scot whose emotions are usually padlocked away in the deepest vaults, so choked he struggled to get through a radio interview.

David James and Sylvain Distin, locked in a long embrace as they waited to climb the next flight of steps to reach the trophy itself.

Wembley lucky charm Niko Kranjcar proudly draped in Croatian flag and toasting becoming the first of his countrymen ever to win the FA Cup.

David Nugent, tearfully picking his dad out of the crowd before giving him his winners’ medal as a birthday present and thank-you for his unstinting support as a parent and friend.

Even owner Sacha Gaydamak emerged on to the Wembley pitch to produce his own jig of delight, the Cup threatening to hurtle out of his hands with every leap.

Moments later he had gone again, politely declining all interviews to head for more comfortable surroundings as if the burst of emotion had been rather too much.

He could be excused.

Why, even Pedro Mendes and Glen Johnson, players usually loathe to speak to the press, found their voices to wax lyrical in the post-match ruck for interviews.

Then there was Kanu, the match-winner, already a previous two-time FA Cup winner, and didn’t he just lap up the occasion.

Try telling those people they didn’t care as much as the supporters.

Of course, it wouldn’t have been possible at all without one man who wasn’t even present on the pitch for the match’s duration – Harry Redknapp.

The Blues boss had been reticent to reveal his true feelings ahead of the FA Cup final, instead preferring to deflect the focus in the direction of the fans and players.

The 61-year-old dodged the majority of questions surrounding his own personal joy at reaching the Wembley showpiece as acrobatically as James between the posts.

He finally revealed his answer moments before kick-off, though, making a point of walking up to each player individually and giving them a hug.

Come the end of an emotionally draining day there he was, tears in eyes, lofting the FA Cup skywards.

Even his ever-dwindling band of detractors, still unforgiving for his previous sins, could afford a smile and begrudging respect at that one.

Yet, while Redknapp’s doubters had dispelled come the final whistle, there were plenty of them in the build-up to the match.

Pompey’s lack of form had already been a concern – then the manager only went and sprang a surprise by naming Mendes in the starting line-up.

It appeared a baffling decision in the light of his unwavering loyalty to the oft-maligned Papa Bouba Diop – the player who he refused to drop despite disappointing post-African Cup of Nations form.

He was rested for Fulham – then curiously dropped to the bench for the FA Cup final.

Harry knew what he was doing, though, as he did with recalling the 4-5-1 system for the big occasion.

With Mendes in the ranks, the holding midfielder shackles were removed from Lassana Diarra and how the Frenchman thrived in his new-found freedom.

Forget Wembley’s bizarre choice as Kanu as the finest player on show, to a man, woman and child, those Pompey fans knew it was the Arsenal recruit.

Yet inevitably, it will be Kanu who will forever be known as the player who ended that 69-year wait.

With 37 minutes on the clock, compatriot John Utaka’s cross came from the right and was spilled by Cardiff keeper Peter Enckelman.

Kanu – a player who totalled 14 minutes of playing time in his three previous FA Cup finals – was there on hand to prod the ball home.

Perhaps, his earlier miss of an open goal two yards out will ultimately be more memorable to the world’s football supporters.

Not that it mattered, for the fans that really count will for the rest of their lives be able to close their eyes and remember.

Remembering Sol Campbell lifting the FA Cup, a vision which will never, ever fade.

It seems like only yesterday – and it always will.

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