'Perhaps it belongs in Arsenal's museum!': The piece of FA Cup history from 2005 final against Manchester United which resides in Bedhampton
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And the match ball currently resides within the office of a Bedhampton house.
And, ahead of the Saturday’s Wembley showpiece between United and Manchester City, the former Premier League match official reveals how it became to be in his possession over the last 18 years.
Styles told The News: ‘Considering the rivalry between the two teams at the time, it was dubbed the unrefereeable match in some respects, particularly leading into an FA Cup final.
‘There was a concern that it may not be the beautiful game or the beautiful final. As it was, it was a good game of football without ever being a classic because there were no goals.
‘Arsenal had been battered, if it was a horse race I would have had the screens around them after 30 minutes – yet it became the first FA Cup final settled by penalties.
‘Paul Scholes had missed, so Vieira was left with what could be the winning penalty – and scored.
‘He went off celebrating, and Roy Carroll, in the Manchester United goal, was not in the least interested in the football ball nestled in the bottom of the net, so I picked it out and tucked it under my arm.
‘The FA’s referee secretary came onto the pitch with the fourth official, Neale Barry, and, with the medal ceremony taking place, I asked him to hold onto it for me – and I later took it back.
‘It has been in my office at home ever since, living in the plastic presentation case the match ball had been delivered in by Soccer AM before the match.
‘That was Vieira’s last kick for Arsenal, he went to Juventus that summer. Later that year (November 2005), I refereed him in their Champions League game against Club Brugge.
‘I had a conversation with Patrick about the FA Cup final and told him how I had the ball. He was fine with it and, at the end of the game, brought his Juventus shirt in for me to keep.
‘Unless somebody scores a hat-trick, I don’t really know how precious match balls are to players. Perhaps this one belongs in Arsenal’s museum!’
The Millennium Stadium game also marked the second occasion a player had been sent off in an FA Cup final.
Jose Antonio Reyes was given his marching orders in the 120th minute, following a second bookable offence.
He followed Manchester United’s Kevin Moran (1985), while in the years since Reyes’ dismissal, there have been Pablo Zabaleta (2013), Chris Smalling (2016), Victor Moses (2017) and Mateo Kovacic (2020).
Styles added ‘Reyes just kept fouling and had already been booked. But he wouldn’t listen.
‘In the end, I had to say to Patrick Vieira, who was captain: “I have to tell you, the next foul he commits I have to send him off. He cannot keep fouling people”. I told Reyes as well, absolutely clearly.
‘None of the fouls in themselves were absolutely horrendous or scything, but he was persistent.
‘Then, in the 120th minute, Reyes brought down Ronaldo. Vieira ran straight over to me, begging me not to send him off. However, once you have told someone you’re going to do something, you lose all credibility if you then don’t.
‘On the commentary, they thought I had sent Vieira off because he was the one in right front of me and Reyes was already turning and going.
‘Instead I was saying to him “What can I do? I told him what would happen if he commits another foul”.’