Paul Konchesky exclusive: ‘I scored in the FA Cup final

Ever since he was standing on a milk crate to see the action from the North Bank of the old Boleyn Ground as a five-year-old, Paul Konchesky has been kissed with West Ham United.

It is a love affair that continues to this day in his role as assistant manager of the club’s women’s team, 35 years since he first became obsessed with the West Ham sides of the 1980s, and 16 years after he came within moments of scoring the winning goal for West Ham in the FA Cup final. The left-back found the net from an “impossible” angle to put his side 3-2 up against Liverpool in what was to later be dubbed ‘The Gerrard Final’.

On Saturday Konchesky is hoping to see West Ham reach another cup final, as the women’s team host Manchester City in the Women’s FA Cup semi-finals, and the 40-year-old told Telegraph Sport: “It’s the best cup, men’s or women’s , and I’m no different from playing to being a coach. To get to a cup final would be an unbelievable achievement for our group of girls.”

Seeing West Ham succeed is all Konchesky has wanted since his mum started taking him to Upton Park around the time when ‘The Boys of 86’ achieved the club’s highest-ever top-flight finish of third. “I used to stand behind the goal, I was quite tiny, and back then you could take a milk crate to see, so I stood on that. My mum used to go with me and I hated missing it,” he recalled.

“My sister used to go too but she was a bit older than me so was in the South Bank where the away fans were, but that was probably where the trouble was, so I kept away from there. [In those days] it was players like George Parris, Tony Gale, Frank McAvennie, Julian Dicks, Pottsy [Steve Potts] – I’ve seen some great footballers who have done fantastic things for this football club.”

‘The WSL is going to get bigger and bigger’

He quickly began to idolize fellow left-back Dicks, whose similarities to Konchesky aren’t merely restricted to both being former West Ham and Liverpool full-backs who spent much of their careers with shaved heads; Dicks also went on to coach in women’s football as West Ham’s manager from 2014 to 2015.

That transition to work in the women’s game is something Konchesky undertook last year, after previously working at the boys’ academy he moved to the women’s setup after the arrival of manager Olli Harder.

It is a decision he is glad he made, adding: “It was a great opportunity to work in a first-team environment, and I knew the WSL was going to get bigger and bigger and women’s football is getting bigger. I’ve loved every minute of it, being on the grass every day with fantastic people, fantastic women, fantastic footballers, players who have played lots of times for their countries, so I’ve learned along the way and I hope I’ve helped the girls. “

Harder, Konchesky and the team are having a promising campaign, claiming away cup victories against Sheffield United, Reading and Ipswich Town to reach the semi-finals. With David Moyes’ men now in the last four of the Europa League, both of the club’s senior teams are in cup semi-finals this month, but within Konchesky’s lifetime, they are yet to lift an FA Cup.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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