When Bob Marley impersonators Kanu and Utaka became Pompey Cup heroes

Nigerian pair John Utaka and Kanu combined to earn Pompey's first FA Cup for 69 years.

Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 8:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:27 am
Kanu and John Utaka celebrate the winning goal. Picture: Allan Hutchings

And the previous evening the twosome had united for a karaoke duet of Bob Marley & the Wailers’ No Woman, No Cry.

Hermann Hreidarsson may have stolen the show with his Elvis Presley impersonation during the singing session at an Italian restaurant in Bray.

But others also joined in the fun on what turned out to be a night of laughter hosted by veteran entertainer Kenny Lynch.

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Kanu and John Utaka celebrate the winning goal. Picture: Allan Hutchings

It was the idea of Harry Redknapp, eager for his playing squad and staff to relax the night before the 2008 FA Cup final against Cardiff.

Accommodated ahead of the final at The Oakley Court in Windsor, he arranged for a booking at a nearby restaurant, while secretly asked Hreidarsson to stage a star turn.

And the outcome still makes him chuckle.

Redknapp said: ‘I loved Hermann, a great character, fantastic boy around the place, really lovely fella.

‘I took him on a free from Charlton and had always liked him, whether at centre-half or left-back.

‘The night before the final, we went to a little restaurant in Windsor near the hotel we were staying in and I got Kenny Lynch to do a karaoke.

‘Now I’d heard all about Hermann’s Elvis impersonation, he loved it, so I had a quiet word with him about surprising everyone. He didn’t take much persuading!

‘The karaoke starts and suddenly out of the back appears Hermann, with the full white suit with the big collar and Elvis boots, everything, it was his own costume.

‘He came on and did his Elvis on the karaoke and Lynchy said “I’m not following that, I couldn’t follow that, that was so good”.

‘Hermann couldn’t sing but had all the actions, all the moves, he was amazing.

‘We never stopped laughing, he was absolutely fantastic.

‘Then John Utaka and Kanu got up and did Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry.

‘That was a good night, it took the pressure off.

‘Rather than sitting around the hotel worrying about things, we all went out and had a great evening.’

Among Hreidarsson’s Elvis repertoire on that Friday night was Blue Suede Shoes and An American Trilogy.

The following day, Redknapp’s men overcame the Bluebirds, courtesy of Kanu’s 37th-minute winner.

After netting at the near post following Peter Enckelman spilling Utaka’s right-wing cross, the pair staged an impromptu dance to celebrate.

At least on that occasion they weren’t required to sing.