HE scored a superb solo goal in an FA Cup semi-final and supplied the cross that eventually led to West Ham’s FA Cup final winner, scored by Sir Trevor Brooking, against Arsenal in 1980.

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Braintree Town Alan Devonshire personifies an FA Cup legend, but has also suffered his fair share of heartache, snapping three of his four knee ligaments in a 1984 Third Round clash at Wigan.

His highs outnumber his lows and while Iron are unlikely to win the competition, it is a fair bet to suggest that a giant-killing tomorrow, against Tranmere, would rank among his highlights.

The former England international is from the ‘old-school’ and while many people have suggested that the FA Cup has lost some of its sparkle over the years, Devonshire remains in love with the competition.

That is why he wants his players to embrace their big moment in front of the TV cameras.

“It’s always a special day when you play in the FA Cup and, for me, it is the best cup competition in the world,” said Devonshire, who is in his second full season at the Amlin Stadium.

“When I played there was no Champions League, it was just the European Cup and back then, it was just the champions of each country that competed.

“Now you can qualify by finishing in fourth place in your division and that does not seem right.

“The FA Cup is unique and I just want my players to go out there and enjoy the occasion.

“They have nothing to lose, no one is expecting them to get a result but anything can happen, that’s the magic of the Cup.”

It may be 32 years since he collected his cherished winners’ medal but the memories are still fresh for the 56-year-old, affectionally known as ‘Dev’ at Upton Park.

“I had a hand in the winning goal in the Cup final and I scored in the semi-final,” said Devonshire, referring to his brilliant solo dribble that broke the deadlock in the semi-final replay, against Everton, at Elland Road.

“But I also had one or two ups and downs and I snapped three out of the four ligaments in my knee during a Cup game at Wigan in 1984. That put me out for 18 months.”

That time out of the game will have no doubt had an effect on Devonshire and he is desperate for his team to make the most of their big chance.

“It’s great for the club and players,” he said.

“It will be a new experience for them, kicking off at 12.30pm will be new for them, but the whole club is buzzing and hopefully they can get a result.”

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