MARLON Harewood’s career highlight came when he played for West Ham United in the FA Cup final against Liverpool back in 2006.
That day ultimately ended in disappointment for the former Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United striker, with the Reds winning on penalties.
But it remains Harewood’s proudest moment, playing for the Hammers at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium – the last to be played there before the competition returned to Wembley.
Now, eight years on, Harewood is looking forward to a different challenge and helping Hartlepool United progress into the second round of the competition.
Paul Murray’s side take on John Coventry’s East Thurrock United at Victoria Park tomorrow afternoon (KO 3pm).
Ahead of the cup tie, the experienced striker has been reflecting on his memories of the world famous cup competition.
Harewood said: “I have very fond memories of the FA Cup having scored the winner for West Ham United in the semi-final win over Middlesbrough and going on to reach the final.
“That is the highlight of my career.
“Scoring in the semi-final to get West Ham United into the final was also a great achievement for me.
“I have been talking to the lads about it and they have been asking me questions.
“It was an amazing experience and to then go on and play in the final.
“The feeling around the place back then was immense and the fans made it so exciting.”
Harewood though had to make do with a FA Cup runners-up medal and he is yet to forgive Steven Gerrard for denying him a winners medal.
West Ham were 2-0 and then 3–2 up but Liverpool captain Gerrard scored a last-minute goal from more than 30 yards to take the game to extra-time, Liverpool eventually winning on penalties.
Harewood added: “We were minutes away and then Steve G came along with a goal – I haven’t forgiven him yet and never will!”
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s match, Harewood insists his Hartlepool United teammates will be fully prepared for the challenge of the Ryman Premier League side.
The 35-year-old said: “East Thurrock is a different challenge but a good game for us to play in and to try to win and get through into the next round of the competition.
“We have to show them respect because these games always go the other way if you don’t.
“We are really up for it and ready to give them a good game.
“We will treat it like any other league game – you have to.
“If you underestimate these teams then they will pull something out of the bag. It is a cup final for them but we have to treat the game in the same manner and look to progress.”