Hakan Unsal, the Turkish international, may make his debut for Blackburn Rovers in the Worthington Cup final on Sunday, and can expect a medal in what promises, one way or another, to be a memorable first match in the English game.
The versatile Hakan went through a medical last night after agreeing personal terms and is joining Graeme Souness's club in a bargain deal from Galatasaray. He will be part of the squad to face Tottenham in Cardiff, although Souness is likely to stick by Stig Inge Bjornebye for the left-back slot. The 28-year-old Hakan can play in the problem position or in midfield, but Souness will not want to disrupt the camp or the players who took Rovers to their first final in 42 years.
Bjornebye has recovered from a bug and should be in the line-up, which is missing the suspended captain Garry Flitcroft, Tugay Kerimoglu and Craig Short.
Souness's side almost picks itself with Lucas Neill also Cup-tied, leaving Hakan an important new addition on the bench. The Spanish striker Yordi – full name Jorge Gonzalez – has been signed by Rovers on loan from Real Zaragoza but will probably havce to watch his new team-mates in action against Spurs.
For Tottenham's England striker, Teddy Sheringham, Sunday's final will be the realisation of a childhood dream as he leads his team out as captain.
Sheringham says even playing for England and his memorable contribution to Manchester United's 1999 European Cup final success will be eclipsed when he captains the team he has followed since boyhood against Blackburn the Millennium Stadium.
"It will be a wonderful moment for me to lead the team out, perhaps the proudest," he said. "It is the dream of every professional to captain the team you have always followed. Only one thing will make the day even better and that will be to collect the Cup at the end."
The 35-year-old was given the captaincy on his return to Spurs from United last summer by the manager Glenn Hoddle. Sheringham, who left for Old Trafford in 1997, said the London club had been transformed under Hoddle from one divided without ambition to a force united in a common aim. "The difference now? From the first moment I set foot in the place again, I felt that everybody was pulling in the same direction," he said.
"That hasn't always been the case at Tottenham – not while I was there or since I left. For instance, when George Graham was there, there was division. Some people wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt while others thought he was a Gooner [Arsenal fan] because of his strong Arsenal connections in the past. All that has gone."
Tensions from Sheringham's time at Manchester United will come back to haunt him on Sunday as he faces his former strike partner Andy Cole.
Cole said in his autobiography that the pair fell out over a conceded goal against Bolton in 1998 and their on and off-field relationship never recovered. However, Sheringham said he would be on the look-out for Cole, a player he still respects professionally. "We will have to watch out for him. He will be a danger," he said.Reuse content