BY GLENN BILLINGHAM
Season 1994/95. Blackburn Rovers were crowned Premiership champions, Everton won the FA Cup and Eric Cantona went kung-fu crazy. However, slipping quietly away from the mainstream headlines, a certain one hundred and twenty minutes of football between two mid-table sides encapsulated all the wonderful and rose-tinted quirks of nineties football.
Ossie Ardilles brought Rosenthal to White Hart Lane in January 1994, but much like his successor, Gerry Francis, didn’t often feature Ronny in the starting eleven. A year later, Ronny had further competition as Spurs fans were enjoying the fruits of homegrown talent and a sprinkling of 1994 World Cup stars. Jurgen Klinsmann, George Popescu and Ilie Dumitrescu were combining well with Teddy Sherringham, a curiously injury-free Darren Anderton and the effervescence of Nick Barmby. Behind them lay a curious marriage of promising youth and patchy experience. Spurs regularly started a young Sol Campbell alongside an ageing Gary Mabbutt in central defence and relied upon names such as Micky Hazard and David Howells in midfield.
1994/95 saw Southampton do the league double over Spurs. However, an almost equally high-scoring 4-3 victory at The Dell and a 2-1 win at White Hart Lane didn’t place them as favourites to progress. With a spine of Bruce Grobbelaar, Ken Monkou, Jim Magilton and Matt Le Tissier, Southampton could flicker between deserving labels of ‘world beaters’ and ‘pub team’ within minutes. Having held Tottenham to a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, there were more than faint hopes of a cup upset.
Live on Sky Sports, the replay became one to miss bedtime for. Southampton, playing true to the weight and influence of an expectant Dell, took their chances in an open first half. Goals from Neil Shipperley and, inevitably, Matt Le Tissier, provided a comfortable two-goal cushion at the break. However, during the break, Gerry Francis hauled off Stuart Nethercott and flung on Ronny Rosenthal. The decision proved decisive.
After little over ten minutes of the second half, Rosenthal hit two in two minutes to level the match. His first, a sweeping finish at the near post and his second an opportunistic twenty-five yard strike which beat Grobbelaar at his near post. The joyful smile, which burst on to even his own face, couldn’t hide the mix of joy and surprise that Rosenthal of all people had bagged a brace. As the remaining half an hour played out, Le Tissier had a screamer or two athletically spurned by Ian Walker, and Sheringham and Anderton missed chances for the away side. Rosenthal completed his hat-trick in blistering fashion in extra-time. From thirty yards plus, he let fly with his left foot and gave Grobbelaar no chance. Defeated and deflated, Southampton caved in and conceded a fourth, fifth and sixth to a Sheringham, Barmby and Anderton.
Tottenham went on to dispatch Liverpool in the quarter-finals, but lost out to Everton in the semis. Daniel Amokachi providing a couple of killer blows in a 4-1 reverse.
As for the ‘Hebrew Hitman’, he eventually left Tottenham in the summer of 1997. Watford and Divison Two his destination, where he stood out as a true class act, scored the goal of the season in a promotion winning campaign and retired aged thirty-five.
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