Rocha relives '˜crazy moment' in THAT iconic Pompey match
A '˜crazy moment' in a match whose finale has achieved iconic status among the Fratton faithful.
Ricardo Rocha is a Blue – eternally.
Despite a man-of-the-match display in the 2010 FA Cup semi-final victory over Spurs, the central defender is regularly reminded of another occasion.
It was David Norris’ stunning left-foot volley which levelled the April 2012 St Mary’s encounter in stoppage-time, during an otherwise forgettable season.
In the same match, Rocha earned notoriety for accidently striking a ball at Southampton fans – and then clipping Adam Lallana around the face.
And upon his return to Fratton Park on Saturday, there was one particular subject supporters wanted to raise.
‘It was a crazy moment,’ said Rocha.
‘I honestly tell people that sometimes you do things you don’t think about and after you’ve done it you think “Why did I do this?”
‘Honestly, I tried to kick the ball into the advertising board and I hit the fans and went up to apologise – then Lallana started shouting at me.
‘I lost a bit of control and everything else, you know what happened.
‘For the Pompey fans, the rivalry with Southampton is a big, big thing. It’s a moment that will stick forever because of that rivalry. I understand that because I am a supporter of Pompey.
‘Most people don’t know that, when David Norris scored, everyone went over to celebrate with the fans – but I went off the pitch and shushed the Southampton fans.
‘It was so quiet in their end, they were not saying anything, so I did that.
‘Even our first goal in that game was unbelievable, through Chris Maguire. Then, in the 90th minute, I was the one that kicked the ball into the box and then it came back – and Norris shot so well.
‘I still watch videos on the internet from the fans behind the goal and it’s just unbelievable, the way they celebrated was fantastic. That game was so important to them.
‘Sometimes people put things on Twitter and you are reminded of all the things that happened in that match.’
Rocha made 97 appearances during three Fratton Park spells spanning three divisions, the last ending in May 2013.
He then returned to his native Portugal, yet was back as Pompey’s guest in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Shrewsbury – and received a heart-warming reception.
He added: ‘My last spell here was when Guy (Whittingham), who was caretaker manager, called me and said “Please, I need you, can you come and help me?”
‘Pompey were always calling me back!
‘I remember that Crewe game, which was so special to the fans after 23 matches without winning. It wasn’t an easy time to support the club, dark times, yet they were always supporting, going to away games.
‘Then there was the 2010 FA Cup, when we were clearly the underdogs against Spurs and had nothing to lose.
‘The club was already relegated, while we spent most of the game defending, but we did great and scored two goals against my former team.
‘Since I left I always look to see what’s going on with the club – and I will always stay connected with the supporters.’