BRESCIA 2 CITY 1
30th July 1992
City Coton, Hill, Pointon, Lake, Curle, Vonk, White, Sheron, Quinn, Simpson, McMahon – used subs Redmond, D Brightwell, Reid, Brennan, Mike, Margetson, Flitcroft, I Brightwell
We were lunching in a quaint little pizzeria when the gaffer announced the line-up for the opening game of our pre-season tour to Italy.
“And, last but not least, wearing the number 11 shirt against Brescia tomorrow will be Mr Paaaaaaul Laaaaaaaaake” said Reidy, hamming it up like a boxing promoter. The lads all jumped to ther feet, clapping and cheering, as I tried to swallow the huge lump in my throat.
Being named in the side was a major achievement for me, of course, but I didn’t want to get carried away. This was going to be the first time I’d kicked a ball in earnest for nearly two years, and I was keen to manage expectations, both my own and other peoples.
Sensing this reticence the gaffer gently eased me into the action. I played half the game versus Brescia and even managed to nick a goal, scoring from close range. Second only to the goal itself was my delight at the nutmegging of Romanian maestro Gheorghe Hagi, who laughed, wagged his finger and clamped his legs shut when I had the cheek to try again.