Ben Close: I saw Kanu win us the FA Cup – now it’s time for more Portsmouth glory
Ben Close believes he still possesses the programme as a momento – and maybe a flag. Possibly.
Nonetheless, glorious memories of Pompey claiming the FA Cup serve as eternal keepsakes.
As an 11-year-old, Close was present at Wembley on that May 2008 occasion.
Accompanying his dad, uncle and cousin, the aspiring footballer rejoiced in Kanu’s decisive moment against Cardiff City.
On Sunday, the former Priory Park pupil returns to the home of football for only the second time since featuring among that record 89,874 crowd.
Close does so having established himself as a first-team regular with 108 appearances for his beloved Blues – and a scoring spurt of five goals in his last 10 outings.
And the Checkatrade Trophy final represents the opportunity to emulate those heroes he cheered from the Wembley stands.
He said: ‘I was there in 2008 – what an incredible moment.
‘I don’t remember loads, but can recall Kanu’s goal, watching the teams come out for the game, the noise, and the blue and white in our half of the stadium.
‘At that age I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I would now, for us to win the FA Cup is such an achievement. As the years went on I realised how well we did.
‘There were four of us from my family. Celebrations at the final whistle were fantastic, then we shot off very quickly back to Portsmouth.
‘I didn’t go to the parade, though, I don’t know why, but I’ve definitely still got the programme, and probably a flag as well.
‘Hopefully we can now recreate a Wembley win. My dad, mum, grandparents and close friends will be there supporting us.
‘I’ve only been back once since that win. It was England against Brazil in November 2017, a goalless draw nowhere near on the excitement level.
‘It’s crazy to think that on Sunday we are playing at the national stadium in a cup final, something I used to dream about.
‘It seemed so far away, literally a dream I didn’t really think would come true, but it has.’
Pompey footballing commitments kept Close away from Pompey’s double Wembley visit in 2010.
Now, 11 years after witnessing Blues glory, he’s bidding for more silverware.