by Jamie Bradbury
Liverpool v Everton
The FA Cup with Budweiser
12.30pm, Saturday 14 April 2012
Live on ESPN
Winning clubs receive £900,000 and losers £450,000 from The FA's prize fund
Click here for fixtures
Martin Skrtel returns to Wembley Stadium on Saturday and hopes to help his Liverpool team to a second victory under the arch in seven weeks.
The Reds beat Cardiff City in the League Cup Final in March to secure their first piece of silverware in six years, and the defender is aiming for another win when they face Merseyside rivals Everton in the first of this weekend's FA Cup with Budweiser Semi-Final ties.
The three-time Slovakian player of the year scored the equaliser for Kenny Dalglish’s side against the Championship outfit before Dirk Kuyt looked to have won the game for the Reds in extra-time. But a late equaliser from Ben Turner sent the Final to a penalty shootout. They eventually saw off Malky Mackay's resilient team, despite missing their first two spot-kicks, to lift a record eighth League Cup.
“It was amazing,” said Skrtel. “Usually I don’t score too many goals, but this was a goal in a Final and got the team back into the game, so I was very happy. When we got the trophy I was pleased knowing I had helped the team win it.
“It was a great game, great to win the League Cup and all of us remember that feeling after the game. It had been a long time since Liverpool last won a cup and we wanted to change that. We wanted to win the match and get a trophy for the club and for the great fans we have."
It was Liverpool’s debut at the new Wembley – their last domestic Final coming at the Millennium Stadium in 2006 – but Skrtel had played at Wembley for his country, though it was the experience and not the result that will stay with him as goals from Emile Heskey, Frank Lampard and a Wayne Rooney brace gave England a 4-0 friendly win over Slovakia.
“The stadium is amazing, absolutely brilliant,” said Skrtel. “One of the best, if not the best stadium I have ever played in. It is always a special game at Wembley. My first appearance was for the national team against England and that was a bit different because there were not many fans from Slovakia in the stadium, but for the [League Cup] Final we had a lot of fans from Liverpool and an amazing atmosphere.
“Everyone just wants to get back to Wembley and be in The Final again. We are in the Semi-Final now and we will do our best to win and come back here.”
The full interview with Martin Skrtel appears in the official Liverpool v Everton FA Cup Semi-Final match programme, which will be available to buy from around Wembley Stadium on Saturday, or online here, priced at £5 (plus P&P).
You can also download the digital programme to your tablet device via Zinio, priced at £2.49, check out the preview version to find out more.
by Jamie Bradbury