Spurs fan Jamal Campbell-Ryce aims for another giant-killing in Capital One Cup
10:28 20 January 2015
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Sheffield United’s Jamal Campbell-Ryce will be relishing tomorrow’s Capital One Cup semi-final clash against his boyhood club Tottenham at White Hart Lane, as he eyes a chance to return to his roots in Wembley.
A loud cheer came from the Tottenham dressing room when the draw for the Capital One Cup semi-finals was made and Spurs were pitted against League One outfit Sheffield United.
It was understandable, and the fans shared the elation. After all, the Lilywhites have a real opportunity to reach a cup final in the coming weeks, and earn their first piece of silverware for seven years.
However, there are two sides to every story. Blades winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce was also hoping to face Tottenham in the last four, crossing his fingers for a chance to face his boyhood club at White Hart Lane – and he is also dreaming of a cup final in Wembley, where he grew up.
Spurs will be favourites ahead of tomorrow’s first leg at the Lane, which is followed by the return game at Bramall Lane next Wednesday – but United will certainly not be daunted.
After all, they are arguably the most fearsome giant-killers in the country right now.
The Blades have won 14 of their 17 cup ties under manager Nigel Clough, since October 2013, reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup last season and now the last four of the Capital One Cup.
During that spell they have eliminated five Premier League sides. United knocked Aston Villa and Fulham out of the FA Cup last season before losing 5-3 to Hull City in the semi-final, and they have beaten West Ham and high-flying Southampton in the Capital One Cup this campaign.
If there was any doubt about the danger, Clough’s side triumphed 3-0 away against QPR in the third round of the FA Cup at the start of this month, with Campbell-Ryce scoring twice in the familiar surroundings of Brent.
The 31-year-old expects Spurs to provide a bigger test, but he is determined that they will not get in the way of his dreams.
“I grew up supporting Spurs so I’m going to have to spend a few quid to get all my family tickets for this one,” he said. “I’ve played at White Hart Lane twice in the past for Southend. We lost both matches so hopefully I can be part of a winning team this time.
“We are the underdogs going into the semi-final, as we have been for all the other cup matches against Premier League teams. But it’s not a bad record the manager has since he came to the club, and everyone keeps reminding me about it as the game approaches.
“We certainly won’t be cocky. We’ve got the utmost respect for them. This is Tottenham we’re playing, who recently scored five goals against Chelsea. They are full of international players and we know we will have to play well to pick up a positive result.
“If we can do that and we can go back to Bramall Lane with something to hold on to then I’m sure the ground will be sold out and the fans are brilliant.
Campbell-Ryce added: “We know we will have to dig in and work hard to get to Wembley – and it would be the biggest highlight of my career to play in a Wembley final.
“I grew up there and went to school not far from the ground. I was back there a few weeks ago – one of my best mates lives next door to the stadium.
“I played there once before for Barnsley against Cardiff in the FA Cup semi-final, but we lost that day.”
That was another notable cup run, with Campbell-Ryce and his Barnsley team-mates overcoming Chelsea and Liverpool en route to the last four in 2008.
The much-travelled wide man only scored three goals in his first 22 appearances this season but, ominously for Spurs, he has netted four in his last four games – including his brace at QPR’s Loftus Road.
At 5ft 6ins and with a dedication to showing his tricks and skills, Campebll-Ryce admits he can be inconsistent and infuriating – but he has no intention of changing his game.
“That’s the way I play,” he said. “I haven’t got the size in terms of height but obviously down the years I’ve bulked up in the gym.
“I try to influence games as much as I can by attacking players and creating chances. If I stopped producing tricks and trying to take players on then I’d just be like everyone else.
“I know I might frustrate sometimes but some days I will be the hero and others the villain.”
Tottenham fans will certainly hope he is not the hero of another upset this month.