14th April, 1991
FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley.
Spurs 3 Arsenal 1
Gazza at his very best, Gazza supreme and when it really mattered - against Arsenal at Wembley - in the FA cup Semi-Final - and on television for the whole nation to enjoy.
‘St. Hotspur Day’ - a day never to be forgotten by Spurs fans around the world. Arsenal were humbled as Gazza returned from injury to score and inspire Spurs to a fantastic victory. Spurs were not expected to win this game, the first semi-final to be played at Wembley, but Venables had them firing on all cylinders from the start. After five minutes Gascoigne scored from a 35 yard free kick that was hit with such power and accuracy that it left Seaman clutching at thin air. As Venables said afterwards, “Paul was probably the only player who could do anything like that.” Five minutes later Lineker increased Spurs lead. Arsenal didn’t know what had hit them. They scored before half-time but Lineker scored the third to take Spurs to the Final. Gazza played for only an hour but left to an ovation – ’Spurs Hero of Wembley’ but all the players played their part in this memorable victory.
From ‘The Times’ – Monday, 15th April, 1981 Stuart Jones
Gascoigne Denies Arsenal Double
Paul Gascoigne has provoked tears to flow again but yesterday they were not his own. In shaping the destiny of the first FA cup semi-final at Wembley, he broke the hearts of Arsenal, and especially David Seamen, who left the arena weeping.
Touching heights of brilliance rare even by his elevated standards, Gascoigne blocked Arsenal’s path to a historic double and ushered Tottenham Hotspur to the final in which they will meet Nottingham forest on May 18.
His contribution, though it lasted scarcely an hour, bordered on the sensational. Show him a spacious stage, turn up the lights, cover the event with television cameras and Gascoigne remains one of the games most enthralling entertainers. Throughout this FA Cup campaign he has been the principal inspiration.
In spite of only recently undergoing a stomach operation, he could not be restrained even by the most disciplined defensive organisation in the country. On the eve of the north London derby he was so overcome by nerves that he could not sleep and required a couple of injections.
Within a dozen minutes his natural hyperactive energy was being positively extended and Arsenal’s ambitions of winning the Cup as well as the League were in ruins.
Gascoigne’s first act was outrageous both in conception and execution. Only he could have considered beating England’s goalkeeper with a 35-yard free-kick and carried out the undisguised but apparently absurd threat. His shot, struck with optimum power and rising to the perfect height, brushed Seamean’s fingertips before nestling in the corner and Tottenham, bristling with purposeful aggression were ahead.
After Gascoigne bemused Thomas with a couple of inventive flicks to release Allen, their lead was extended by a characteristic close-range prod by Lineker.
Tottenham, with their midfield players running from deep to support Lineker, penetrated Arsenal’s renowned rearguard with unexpected regularity and might have added another through Samways.
Arsenal came back into the game but they scored only through an unforced error but might have claimed an equaliser before Gascoigne, having scored his sixth goal of the FA Cup, walked off to an ovation from half of the stadium.
Almost immediately, his replacement, Nayim gave Tottenham the belief they were seeking. Within minutes of his incisive run, Lineker made a more profound impact after gaining possession inside the centre circle. Using Samways as a convenient decoy, he accelerated past the comparatively cumbersome Adams and drove past Seaman. Alarmingly, England’s goalkeeper could do no more than wave the ball in.
Terry Venables commented:
‘Paul was probably the only player who could do anything like that. To get so much power as well as bend and dip into his free-kick was phenomenal. He did a great job, but to be honest, apart from the free kick I don’t want to overdo it talking about him because in the end it was a team effort.’
Team: Thorstvedt, Edinburgh, Van Den Hauwe, Sedgley, Howells, Mabbutt, Stewart, Gascoigne (Nayim), Samways (Walsh), Lineker, Allen.