Jamie O'Hara played a Portsmouth FA Cup final with a fractured spine - now he's seeking Billericay glory

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Jamie O’Hara played for Pompey in the 2010 FA Cup final with a fractured spine.

Now the Billericay boss is gunning to claim a Football League scalp as they head to Forest Green Rovers.

The former Spurs midfielder has steered the non-league side to three FA Cup qualifying round victories since his appointment earlier in the campaign.

Billericay now face a trip to League Two leaders Forest Green in today’s first round.

It was back in May 2010 when O’Hara, on loan from Spurs, featured in the final for Pompey against Chelsea.

Avram Grant’s side suffered a 1-0 defeat to Didier Drogba’s 59th-minute goal in their second FA Cup final in three seasons.

Jamie O'Hara's last Pompey appearance was the 2010 FA Cup final against Chelsea. Picture: Steve Reid

Jamie O'Hara's last Pompey appearance was the 2010 FA Cup final against Chelsea. Picture: Steve Reid

Yet O’Hara, who was that year crowned The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season, admits he played at Wembley through serious injury.

He told 2017 book Played Up Pompey Too: ‘I should never have played in the 2010 FA Cup final, yet a fractured spine wasn’t going to stop me.

‘In the build-up to that Wembley occasion, I was a massive doubt. Subsequently, following that Chelsea match, two titanium screws and a rod were inserted in my back, putting me out of action for five months.

‘My parent club, Tottenham Hotspur, didn’t want me to feature either. In their mind a footballer with such an injury was simply not meant to play – they definitely had a point.

‘But try telling that to a 23-year-old who had the opportunity to play in a Wembley cup final within his grasp. I basically said “I am playing this game”.

‘Ahead of the match I visited a back surgeon, who provided injections to get me through the day. For that 1-0 defeat I operated at 80 per cent and wasn’t really fit, but it was great to be involved.

‘The final didn’t make my back worse, it was a stress fracture which had cracked, it wasn’t going to deteriorate any more. I was informed it would be a risk to play, but it was a risk I was willing to take.

‘It turned out to be a bad injury and I still get back problems to this day. I have learned to cope with it as long as I keep my back strong through plenty of core exercises.

‘After 75 minutes against Chelsea I was struggling a little with the injury, but carried on. There was no way I was going to willingly come off.

‘In the changing room afterwards I could hardly move, I was in bits, and subsequently barely able to move during a week-long holiday – but no-one was going to stop me and I have no regrets. After all, I played in an FA Cup final.’

O’Hara was a popular figure during his season-long stay for the 2009-10 campaign.

Signed on loan from Spurs by Paul Hart in August 2009, he totalled 29 appearances and three goals in a season which saw the club enter administration – and suffer relegation to the Championship.

He added: That was a crazy year for me at Fratton Park, yet there are not many clubs in my playing career where I have felt so at home. Spurs was one – Pompey the other.

‘The fans really took to me and I am so grateful for that. By the end of the campaign I had won nine player of the season awards and still have the trophies at home. Being presented with them on the pitch at half-time against Wolverhampton Wanderers is a special moment I’ll always cherish.’