Where Are They Now? #14 – 1997 FA Cup Final (Middlesbrough)

Where Are They Now? gears up for the FA Cup final on Saturday by revisiting a number of cup final squads all this week. We start with a look back to a time where the matchday squad only contained three named substitutes – 1997. Up first are runners-up Middlesbrough who were beaten comfortably 2-0 by Chelsea…

25. Ben Roberts (Goalkeeper)


Roberts began his career with Boro but was never considered the outright number 1 at the club. He instead played understudy during his seven year career on Teeside and was only in the cup final team because Mark Schwarzer was cup-tied. Following the final, Roberts suffered from a serious back injury which saw him miss large parts of the next two seasons. He did get some game time during loan spells at Millwall and Luton but in 2000, Roberts was allowed to leave for Charlton. He once again played second fiddle at Charlton, making just one league appearance before heading out on loan to Reading and Luton in 2002 and Brighton in 2003. The Seagulls decided to make his move permanent in the summer of 2003 and he helped them to promotion in 2004. However, Roberts’ recurring back problems forced him into retirement in 2005 at just 29. He took up coaching and was appointed goalkeeping coach and chief scout at Yeovil in 2009. He even pulled the gloves back on for 45 minutes due to an injury crisis. He returned to current side Charlton as goalkeeping coach in 2010.

  14. Curtis Fleming (Right Back)


Signed for a paltry £50,000 from St. Patrick’s Athletic in his homeland, Irish full back Fleming was a loyal and dependable servant for Boro. He stayed with the club throughout the highs and lows during his tenure there and racked up over 250 league appearances before departing in 2001, first on loan to Birmingham before his permanent departure to Crystal Palace. His time at Palace was marred by injuries but he was appointed club captain by Iain Dowie before he left in 2004 for Darlington. He returned to Ireland in the summer of 2005 to play for Shelbourne but retired at the end of that year. After doing some punditry with Setanta Sports, Fleming moved into coaching with spells at Boro, Livingston, Crystal Palace and, current employers, Bolton.

5. Nigel Pearson (Centre Back/Captain)


Captain Pearson was an experienced campaigner and had played in cup finals with previous club Sheffield Wednesday. He only played professionally for one more season, retiring in the summer of 1998. He moved immediately into management with Carlisle United and just about kept them in the Football League thanks in no small part to an injury time goal from one Jimmy Glass. He left Carlisle after that game and spent time learning his craft at a number of different teams in an assistant manager and coaching role. He was a coach at Stoke and assistant at West Brom, Newcastle and with the England under 21s (all three assistant roles led to him being put in caretaker charge for short spells). He got his next managerial role at Southampton in 2008 and despite keeping the club in the Championship, he was fired after three months in charge. He joined Leicester in the summer of 2008 and led them to the League 1 title and the Championship play-offs in his two seasons in charge before he left for Hull in 2010. His time at Hull was uneventful and he returned to Leicester in November 2011 and still remains there to date having just guided them to promotion into the Premier League.

18. Gianluca Festa (Centre Back)


One of the first Italians to play in England, Festa was booked in the final against Chelsea and had a goal disallowed for offside. He had only joined in January 1997 but Festa established himself as a solid defender for Boro. He stayed with the club despite relegation and helped them return to the Premier League. He remained on Teeside until 2002 despite his game time being limited by the partnership of Ugo Ehiogu and Gareth Southgate. He joined Portsmouth in 2002 and helped them to promotion to the Premier League before returning to Italy with hometown team Cagliari in 2003 and helping them to promotion. He joined Nuorese of Serie C2 in 2004 and was the club captain until his departure in 2007. After short spells at Tavolara and Sanluri, he retired from playing in 2009. Festa moved into coaching with Cagliari in 2010 before joining Lumezzane as manager in 2012. He left in March 2013 and was most recently seen at Leeds United as part of the debacle that was the Massimo Cellino takeover on deadline day.

17. Clayton Blackmore (Left Back)


A product of the Manchester United youth system, Blackmore had struggled for game time for Boro but was given the nod to start at full back. His five years at Boro only saw play just over 50 league games for the club and he left for Barnsley in 1999. His spell there was brief and he had a similarly brief spell with Notts County. In 2000, Blackmore made an appearance for Leigh RMI before joining a club in his homeland of Wales with Bangor City. He played over 150 games for Bangor including a short spell as manager in 2006 before he joined Porthmadog that year. He left the club in 2007 for Neath Athletic before retiring in 2010.

10. Juninho (Right Wing)


Deployed on the right for the final, the Brazilian playmaker was more comfortable behind the striker. Despite his remarkable individual season, he could not keep Middlesbrough up and he left for Atletico Madrid in Spain in the summer of 1997. His time in Madrid was disappointing as poor form and a broken leg hampered him. He returned to Boro on loan for the 1999/2000 season and then Vasco Da Gama in his homeland in 2000 and 2001 before a brief loan spell at Flamengo in 2002. During that time, Juninho was also a part of the squad that won the World Cup in 2002. He returned to Middlesbrough in 2002 permanently and despite never recapturing his best form, he was still idolised by the Boro fans. He left in 2004 for Celtic in Scotland but his time there was short and unhappy and he moved back to Brazil with Palmeiras. His time there was a success and earned him a move to former side Flamengo in 2007. He lasted barely months after he was let go following an argument with boss Ney Franco. He had a spell with Sydney FC in Australia before his retirement in 2008. Juninho is currently the president of his first club Ituano in Brazil.

8. Robbie Mustoe (Centre Midfield)


Another loyal and long serving player for Boro, Mustoe was replaced in the final after half an hour by Steve Vickers. Mustoe remained with Boro until 2002, racking up over 450 appearances in 12 years at the club. He joined Charlton but after one season and just six league games he left for Sheffield Wednesday. Mustoe played one season for the Owls before hanging up his boots in 2004. Post retirement, Mustoe moved to the US to coach at Bentley College as well as doing punditry for ESPN. He currently is a pundit for NBC Sports in the US.

6. Emerson (Centre Midfield)

Carling Premiership Soccer - Everton v Middlesbrough

A Brazilian that attracted major attention around Europe, Emerson was allegedly signed without Bryan Robson’s knowledge. He was a key player for Boro and stuck around after relegation in 1997. However, interest from Barcelona turned his head and after going AWOL and threatening the club, he joined Tenerife in Spain in January 1998. He suffered relegation with Tenerife and eventually moved to La Liga champions Deportivo in 2000. Following his departure from Deportivo in 2002, Emerson struggled to stay at a club for more than a season with spells at Atletico Madrid; AEK Athens and Skoda Xanthi in Greece; Rangers in Scotland; APOEL in Cyprus and Vasco Da Gama and Madureira in his homeland before retiring in 2008.

20. Phil Stamp (Left Midfield)


The complete opposite of Juninho on the right was Middlesbrough boy Stamp. A product of the youth academy, Stamp played over 100 times for the club before his departure, first on loan to Millwall in 2001 then permanently to Hearts in Scotland in 2002. He was at Hearts for three years, making over 60 appearances for the club before joining Darlington in 2005. He rarely played before retiring in 2007.

11. Fabrizio Ravanelli (Striker)


Boro’s top scorer was an injury doubt and lasted barely 25 minutes before going off hurt and was replaced by Mikkel Beck. It proved to be one of his last games with the club as he left not long after relegation for Marseille in France. His goals helped push Marseille to a second place finish in Ligue 1 and the Champions League before he was allowed to return to Italy in January 2000 to join Lazio. He won a Serie A title with the Rome side at the end of that season but he was never a regular in the side. Eventually, he returned to England with Derby County in 2001 but couldn’t save them from relegation in 2002 and, after a disappointing season in the First Division, he left in 2003. Following a short spell at Dundee in Scotland, Ravanelli returned to first club Perugia but couldn’t save them from relegation to Serie B. He retired from playing in 2005. Ravanelli began his coaching career with the Juventus youth sides in 2011 where he remained until June 2013. He got his first taste of management at Ajaccio in France but it was a disappointing stint that only lasted until November.

21. Craig Hignett (Striker)


The scorer of the first ever goal at Boro’s Riverside Stadium, Hignett was replaced late on by Vladimir Kinder. He stayed at Boro until 1998 when he joined Barnsley via a short spell north of the border at Aberdeen. He helped Barnsley to the play-off final in 2000 but they lost out to Ipswich. He joined Blackburn in 2000 and helped them to promotion to the Premier League and a League Cup win in 2002. Despite this, he was not a regular in the side and, after a short stint on loan at Coventry, he left for Leicester in 2003. His time at Leicester would be short and uneventful which would be a recurring theme for the rest of his career with spells at Crewe (on loan), Leeds, Darlington, Hartlepool and Apollon Limassol in Cyprus before retiring in 2007. Hignett is currently Middlesbrough’s assistant manager.


4. Steve Vickers (Defender)


An early replacement for Mustoe, Vickers was another loyal servant to Boro who made over 250 appearances for the club. He left in 2001, first to Crystal Palace on loan then to Birmingham on loan before joining the Blues on a permanent deal that summer. His time with Birmingham was injury plagued but he helped them to promotion in 2002. He retired from playing in 2003 and has since worked in property development and recruitment.

7. Vladimir Kinder (Defender)


Slovak international Kinder came on as a late substitute for Hignett in the final and was a solid back up for Boro. He stayed with the club following relegation and helped them back into the Premier League. He left Middlesbrough in 1999 for a season at Czech club Drnovice before returning to his hometown Bratislava in 2000 to join Artmedia Petrzalka. He left Artmedia in 2003 and head season spells with Untersiebenbrunn and Schwadorf in Austria before retiring in 2005.

9. Mikkel Beck (Striker)


The son of a Danish footballer, Beck was an early replacement for the injured Ravanelli. He was an important member of the squad that got Boro back into the Premier League following relegation before he was sold to Derby in 1999. His time at Derby was miserable as he only scored twice in the league and is regarded by fans as one of Derby’s worst players. He left the club for three loan spells at Nottingham Forest, QPR and AaB in his native Denmark. After appearing at Euro 2000 with Denmark, Beck was sold to Lille in France but a lack of playing time saw him loaned back to AaB in 2002. It was during this period that Beck began to suffer a number of injuries which kept him out of the game. After being released by Lille in 2002, Beck failed to win deals at Cordoba in Spain and Crystal Palace due to injury so he retired 2004. Post retirement, Beck became a sports agent.

Bryan Robson (Manager)


Boro was Robson’s first foray into management and this cup final was one of three that he would lead Boro to, all of which they lost. His expensively assembled squad could not keep them in the Premier League in 1997 and despite returning immediately, Robson struggled to get his side above ninth in the Premier League. He left Boro by “mutual consent” in June 2001. His next management job was at struggling Bradford in 2003. Again, Robson couldn’t save the club as they were relegated to the third tier that season. Robson left Bradford at the end of the season and returned to his first club West Brom as manager in November 2004. He kept the club up on a dramatic final day in 2005 but could not repeat the feat the next season and left his post in September 2006. He had a brief and unsuccessful spell as Sheffield United manager during the 2007/2008 season before taking on his last managerial role with the Thailand national team. This lasted from 2009 until 2011.

Stay tuned for the second part of the 1997 FA Cup final tomorrow.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s