Making the FA Cup final will be one of the greatest memories of Ryan Bennett’s career as a professional footballer, the Wolves defender has admitted.
As the club head into their first semi-final since 1988 when Nuno’s side face Watford at Wembley on Sunday, Bennett is anticipating an electric atmosphere at the home of football.
On importance of FA Cup
“It’s been spoken about at the club about how far we want to go in everything, but we still take every game as it comes.
“It’s not every day that you get the chance to progress into a final and we’ve got a good opportunity now after beating some good teams in this competition to get here.
“Now we’re looking at playing well and pushing forwards to try and get into the final and hopefully go on to win it.”
On foreign Wolves players’ knowledge of FA Cup
“No one’s really explained the importance of the FA Cup to them, but for them it’s a cup and they’re used to playing in cups back for their national teams as well as for their previous clubs, so I think they understand the importance of the competitions in general.
“Whether that is the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup – it’s another game, and that’s the way we look at it. We want to go as far as we can in every single thing we do.”
On knocking Liverpool out of the cup
“It was a difficult game. When the draw was made you knew it was going to be a tough game because ideally you want to avoid the ‘power teams’. But we knew we could give anyone a game on the day – even our record against the top teams this year has been really good.
“They changed their team a little bit, which could’ve helped us slightly, but we played well on the day and got the result, so it was good to put those sorts of teams out, because the further you go in the competition you’re more likely to come up against them.”
On overcoming United in the quarter-final
“It was a great achievement. It was always going to be a difficult game again, especially with the sort of form they’d been in since Solskjaer had come over and took over.
“They had a great away record and was a massive atmosphere around the city and there was a big buzz and build up coming in to the game. On the Saturday night the atmosphere was brilliant, and we went out there, played unbelievably and got the win.
“I think the pre-match atmosphere at Molineux is brilliant. The light shows really do build the atmosphere, so when you come out and hear the roar from the supporters, and he chants really get going, it puts you in a good mindset and makes you want to run through brick walls for them.”
On his Wembley experiences
“The Tottenham game was a little bit different because it’s their home game in the Premier League but being there at the play-off final is sort of a similar experience to what it will be on Sunday.
“The occasion for the fans, having half the stadium one team and half of the stadium the other is great. It’s probably the only time when I walked out to the pitch when I thought ‘wow’. I was at Grimsby when we played in the Johnson’s Paint Trophy and we were doing the warm-up and you thought ‘this is it, this is proper’.
“When you experience that, and I think for the FA Cup it will be even bigger with all the fans and all the buzz that’s going to be around the game, I think it’s going to be amazing.”
On Wolves’ first semi-final since 1998
“That’s something that I didn’t know about, and probably most of the players don’t know about, but my FA Cup history isn’t great – I don’t think I’ve ever got past the third round!
“But to reach a semi-final in any competition, regardless of when it was last done, is always a massive achievement for a club.”
On proposition of Watford
“When the draw was made, we all wanted to avoid Man City, but we would have taken anyone. We know if we go out there and play well we can give anyone a game.
“They’ve got the experience of being there before, while some of our lads don’t, but some of our lads have played in the biggest games in world football and some of their players haven’t, so some of the experiences we’ve got in our changing room will out way what they’ve got.
“But it’s going to be a tough game. When you look back at the game at Molineux earlier in the season, they were probably one of the best teams we’ve played against, so we know how hard it’s going to be.
“Some of the players they’ve got are brilliant and we’re under no illusions about how tough a game it’s going to be. Being at Wembley on a big pitch, the atmosphere is going to be brilliant, so we’re all just looking forward to it.”
On possibility of making an FA Cup final
“It would be brilliant. I’ve not been past the third round before, I don’t think. It’s one of those things that you would look back on forever.
“With the history of the cup, that people know about, it’s massive, and in years to come, the competition is always going to be there, and if you can say you’ve got to the final, and potentially won it, then that would be one of the best things as a professional footballer.
“It’s not every day you get medals in football, and that’s one of the biggest ones out there, so I would love to go and get it.”