They say never meet your heroes but when John Lundstram sees Rafa Benitez this afternoon, he might have a tear in his eye.
Now Oxford Captain, back in May 2005, he was an 11 year old schoolboy dreaming of being a professional footballer.
On the books of Everton from being a kid, Lundstram was actually a devoted Liverpool fan.
Ahead of today’s FA Cup match, the 22 year old midfielder says that Rafa Benitez and his players reduced him to tears after 45 minutes, when Liverpool trailed AC Milan 3-0 in the Champions League final.
However, he then says that ‘What then happened will live in my memory for the rest of my life’, as the scousers came back to draw 3-3 and then win on penalties.
Looking forward to meeting Rafa Benitez in the referee’s room pre-match in his capacity as Oxford skipper, John Lundstram hopes to keep it together and simply shake Rafa’s hand and say ‘good luck’.
John Lundstram talking to the Witney Gazette:
“It will be a weird one for me as a Liverpool supporter going in the referee’s room before the game.
“I can remember as a kid watching the Champions League final and crying at half-time.
“What then happened is something that will live in my memory for the rest of my life.
“I don’t think I’ll say anything different to him than I would to any League One manager.
“I’ll just shake his hand and say ‘good luck’. I won’t say anything else, although Rafa Benitez was a hero of mine as a kid.
“I’ve never been star struck before so I don’t think I will, but it is something I’m really looking forward to.”
John Lundstram also spoke about potentially facing Jonjo Shelvey for the second time, Oxford knocking Swansea out of the FA Cup in the third round last season, in what proved to be Shelvey’s last match before moving to Newcastle:
“It was a good battle between me and him last year.
“I have seen a lot of the stuff the fans have been saying and it’s funny, but obviously the most important thing is the win.
“If Jonjo Shelvey absolutely bullies me I’ll be fine with that if we go through on Saturday.
“He’s a brilliant, technically gifted player and can spot a pass from anywhere.
“He can score goals and tackle, he’s a complete footballer.
“Newcastle are a massive club with unbelievable players.
“They will be definite favourites but we fancy ourselves as little underdogs.”