Long-serving midfielder hopes it’s fifth time lucky
MORTEN Gamst Pedersen has waited six years for his Wembley second chance as he bids to fire Blackburn Rovers to the home of English football at the fifth time of asking.
Rovers’ longest serving player has played in four major semi finals for the club, the latest being a heartbreaking FA Cup extra time defeat to Chelsea in 2007 at Old Trafford.
Now, Pedersen and co travel to Millwall on Sunday in the last eight of the world’s most famous club knockout competition just 90 minutes away from a Wembley semi-final.
And Pedersen has more reason than most to want to fire Rovers to Wembley for the first time since the Charity Shield in 1995, having missed a sitter in the dying minutes to cost his side a place in the first FA Cup final back there in 2007.
The tie stood at 1-1 when an unmarked Pedersen put a close range header the wrong side of the post after 82 minutes. Michael Ballack got the winner for Chelsea in extra-time, who went on to lift the trophy.
Pedersen said: “I headed the ball from inside the post past Cech and it goes for a goal-kick. I still don’t know how it happened. But it happens.
“I remember that game like it was yesterday.
“We played so well, it was maybe one of the best games we’ve played during my time here.
“We out-played them for the 90 minutes and for most of extra time. Everyone felt we deserved to win that game.
“I actually had two headers – one beat Petr Cech and hit the inside of the post and another went outside it.
“You remember those things and it would have been great to reach the first cup final at the new Wembley – but it’s history now. The only thing we can affect now is the future.
“There was that one and other semi-finals as well. If we win on Sunday it would be my fifth semi-final. Maybe it will be fifth time lucky for me.”
Rovers have been beaten in five semi-finals since lifting the Worthington Cup at the Millennium Stadium in 2002, as well as losing two other quarter finals.
But, facing a fellow struggling Championship side, both teams will believe they have the perfect opportunity to book their place at Wembley.
Pedersen said: “Now we have a massive game on Sunday. Of course, it’s an unbelievable chance. Wembley is one of the most famous stadiums in the world.
“It’s two Championship teams and both will really fancy their chances.
“We just have to go there and do it. Beating Arsenal away was a fantastic achievement – and that’s the funny thing about the cup, anything can happen, no matter what is going on in the league.
“Teams who have been losing can win a cup tie and the other way round – it’s open but if we can do what we know we can, we feel we can win.
“It would be an amazing achievement after what’s happened this season.
“To get the chance to travel down with the fans and play in the new Wembley – but we have a job to do first.
“You don’t get anything for free, you see what happens in some of the other cups.”
Neither Rovers or Millwall go into the tie in good form, with Michael Appleton’s men without a league win in six and the Londoners having lost six of their last seven.
“Millwall are favourites because they’re at home,” said Pedersen. “That’s how it is. But we go there with nothing to lose.
“If we perform with the same levels as we produced at Bolton on Tuesday night then we’ve got a big chance.
“We’ve two fantastic games coming up to be honest – we’ve got Millwall and then we have Burnley at home and we want to beat them again. So it feels like two finals are coming up.
“Hopefully it could be a fantastic week, we’re all looking forward to it.
“It’s hard when you get beaten in the last game but we have to try to be positive.
“We have 10 games to go in the league, we have to get as many points as possible.
“I’m a positive guy. I go into any game thinking we can win. The manager is trying to get some positive energy into the club.
“What happened at the weekend (the performance in the defeat to Peterborough) should not happen at this club,” added Pedersen of last weekend’s loss.