I came off the bench for Everton and scored twice – but my manager warned me to never do it again

Daniel Amokachi brought himself on as a substitute for Everton to inspire their 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup final on April 9, 1995

Everton fans’ favourite Daniel Amokachi reckons there were higher forces at work on the day he sneaked on to the pitch to fire the Blues to Wembley on this day in 1995.

En route to their 1-0 victory over Manchester United the following month – that remains Everton’s last major trophy – they thrashed Tottenham Hotspur 4-1 in their semi-final at Elland Road but the game remained in the balance until the Nigerian substitute entered the fray. Argentina’s Diego Maradona described his infamous goal against England at the 1986 World Cup as being ‘The hand of God’ but recalling the highlight of his time at Everton, the striker lifted the lid in 2020 on the incident that his Blues boss Joe Royle described as: “The best substitution that I never made.”

Amokachi told the ECHO: “It was just history and the good lord wanted it to come to life. For a player that spent just two seasons at Everton, I became a cult hero just because of that game.

“I’m a strong believer and I believe in the good lord. It was ordained for it to happen and it happened the way it did. Paul Rideout was tackled a couple of times in the game and second time around he got injured.

“The doctor went over and advised Joe to substitute Rideout. The gaffer was saying ‘give him five more minutes.’

“Five minutes later and Rideout was back on the turf again. You know what it’s like when a player drops, you don’t have to wait for the gaffer, you just start getting ready.”

Amokachi came on against Gerry Francis’ side with 20 minutes remaining. Everton had looked comfortable, going 2-0 up through Matt Jackson (35) and Graham Stuart (55) but a controversial penalty, converted by Jurgen Klinsmann, had given the Londoners a lifeline.

Amokachi would end up being the hero as his late brace (netted in the 82nd and 90th minute) sealed a comprehensive 4-1 victory. However, he hadn’t even been given permission to enter the game.

He said: “I was pumped up and I knew before the game if I had the opportunity I would take it because the last few weeks before we played Tottenham I’d really been on fire in the reserves. The captain Dave Watson, Neville Southall, Joe Parkinson, they all saw it.

“But when the gaffer had said to give Rideout ‘five more minutes’ I felt that inside he still didn’t have that confidence in me yet. I gave the substitution slip to the fourth official, the ball went out of play and I get jumped into the team.

“Joe came running towards the touchline saying: ‘What are you guys doing?’ I looked at him, fixed my collar, and ran on to the pitch.

“Minutes later I was on the scoresheet, then again soon after. I didn’t break the news of what happened to the world, the gaffer did in press conference.

“He came into the locker room and told me: ‘Well done – and never try that s**t again!’”

The result would go down as one of the all-time great performances from an Everton side in a big game with Royle particularly pleased to have been party-pooper to what had been dubbed by many as a potential ‘dream final’ between Manchester United and Spurs. Amokachi believes that the team spirit within the Blues camp among a group of players who the manager had dubbed ‘The Dogs of War’, enabled them to turn around what had been a relegation-threatened season and end it with silverware as they defeated Alex Ferguson’s side 1-0 in the final.

He said: “It was a great day. From where we came from, struggling to survive in the division that year, we ended playing some beautiful, technicolour football.

“The belief, the love, the togetherness, the one-family mentality that we had with that bunch, enabled us to win the FA Cup that year. Not just the players but the fans who stuck with us when we were crap. It was a beautiful year.

“The two best teams in the country that year were Spurs and Manchester United and we ended up beating them both to clinch the trophy.

“We had a real special team spirit. When we needed to work, we’d work. When we needed to clown, we’d clown.

“Neville (Southall) was the biggest example of that. When you needed to laugh he’d make you laugh while I was another clown.

“Also ‘ The Big Dunc ’ coming into the team was a blessing. The character that ‘The Big Dunc’ brought as a Scottish warrior helped us, 100%.

“We needed some that year. There were lots of different characters but we all merged into one, it was special.”

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