UTD Podcast: The goal that started a legacy
Former Manchester United defender Lee Martin tells all about his famous 1990 FA Cup-winning goal in the latest UTD Podcast.
The former full-back joins Helen Evans and David May for the most recent edition of the UTD Podcast. The 65th episode of our official club podcast is now available on the podcast platform of your choice.
The youth product came through the ranks to make the first team and, undoubtedly, his most famous moment in the red shirt came in the 1990 FA Cup final replay against Crystal Palace.
After a cracking 3-3 match in the initial final, the sides met for a replay a few days later. United ran out 1-0 victors, thanks to a Martin finish into the roof of the net, after his run was picked out by Neil Webb's beautiful pass. The goal was only his second for the club.
Martin’s winner secured the first trophy under the leadership of Sir Alex Ferguson and we all know what it kickstarted.
During the podcast, Martin says he never gets tired talking about his winner at Wembley.
“I’ve got some great memories and it’s a massive part of my life,” he starts, when asked to elaborate on the goal.
“It’s 30 years ago now. We had a really good cup run. I think we played every game away from home, which was unique. I don’t think it’s been done since. We played some tough games as well, playing Oldham in the semi-finals after a replay at the old Maine Road and then we got ourselves to Wembley.”
Martin describes the six-goal thriller in the first game against the Eagles as a true FA Cup classic.
“The Saturday game was 3-3, and it was a brilliant game,” Martin recalls.
“I remember Mark Hughes saying to me in the warm-up: 'Make sure you enjoy this experience because you might never come back again'. They were brilliant words.”
Martin also revealed he might not have started the final replay, had he told the manager the truth about his fitness in training.
“I had a bit of problems with cramp, every game, even the league games, the last five-six minutes,” the cup hero said.
“I remember training in London on the Wednesday, the manager pulled me to one side and said: 'Are you going to be alright tomorrow with your cramp and all that?', and I went: 'Yeah, absolutely fine, no problem whatsoever.'
”I was never going to say no, it was a cup final. It was probably a daft question. I said: 'I’ll be fine, don’t worry.'
Despite the niggle and fear of cramp, Martin started and scored the famous goal. He became an unlikely hero for United, considering he had only scored once for the club before the FA Cup final.
“I think I was 60/1 to score, the goalkeepers were only 50/1, they gave me no chance,” the former Red said laughing, before describing the crucial moment.
“We were about 10 minutes into the second half. Archie Knox was the assistant manager on the touchline and I was about 30 yards away. He just shouted for me to get forward. I was shattered as well, I’d had a long season but thought I had to make the run. So I made the run, 70-80 yards into the box.
”Mark Hughes had made a run across the box to take a couple of defenders away and Neil Webb probably played the best ball he ever played, right into my chest on the edge of the box. I chested it down and just as I was about to hit it, I got cramp in my calf so I thought 'Jesus'. This is only in a split second. I could feel the cramp coming on but I thought I've just get a foot on the ball, so I managed to stretch my foot out, got a foot on the ball and it flew into the top corner. You wouldn’t believe it, it was so lucky. Normally, it would have gone into the stands somewhere but it flew in and I thought 'Jesus, it’s gone in that!'
United’s first FA Cup win since 1985, and our seventh in total at the time, was a cause for celebration. Indeed, so much so that it got uncomfortable for the matchwinner.
“All the lads just came over [when I scored] and jumped on top of me,” Martin says in the UTD Podcast.
“I said to Robbo 'you've got to get off me, I've got cramp here', I was in absolute agony. Robbo slapped me in the face. He got up and he had a little talk to me saying 'keep going, you’ll be alright, we’ll keep an eye on you.' I was rubbish after that, I could hardly run. They played a few balls in over my head. Wrighty [Ian Wright] must have noticed I was struggling.”
Martin managed to stay on in the closing stages as Ferguson’s men held on to secure a precious victory.
“When the final whistle went, all the lads came running on the pitch,”the former full-back remembers.
“The manager put his arm around us, saying 'well done'. The manager, with his watch and his phone, was thrown in the bath, it was just brilliant. It was a brilliant occasion.
”You look back now and think what a great time but the buzz of actually winning the FA Cup final was the best thing I ever did. Not so much scoring the winner, I never thought I was scoring the winning goal but when you win a cup final, lift the trophy, being a part of all that, it’s just amazing.