Ex-West Ham star suffered FA Cup final torment and then again with England – 'It was horrible'

Anton Ferdinand of West Ham United is distraught after missing his penalty during the shoot out at the end of the FA Cup Final match between Liverpool and West Ham United at the Millennium Stadium on May 13, 2006 in Cardiff, Wales
-Credit: (Image: No credit)

The pain is still raw for former West Ham United star Anton Ferdinand.

In a span of two years, he found himself in the centre of two dramatic penalty shootouts for club and country. At the age of 20 years old, Ferdinand was the fifth and final penalty taker for the Hammers in the 2006 FA Cup final against Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium.

The match is most remembered for Steven Gerrard's brace, that was dramatically capped off by a stunning half-volley from 35 yards in the dying seconds.

Now aged 39, Ferdinand was one of three Hammers to miss their penalties after Bobby Zamora and Paul Konchesky both had their shots saved by Pepe Reina. Regrettably, his was the crucial penalty the Hammers needed to stay in the contest.

A year after his Cardiff heartbreak, Ferdinand thought he had laid some old demons to rest when he scored a penalty for England U21s in a shootout against the Netherlands in the European Championship semi-final.

To his dismay, he was called upon to take another one later on in what is still one of the longest penalty shootouts in football history. Fast forward nearly 20 years, both misses still live long in the former Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers' star's head.

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Ferdinand will be strapping on his boots once more for 'FIVE FC', England's representative in the forthcoming 'King's Cup'. In an exclusive chat with the Mirror, Ferdinand reflected on those two pivotal penalties ahead of the FA Cup final showdown between Manchester United and Manchester City.

"Missing the penalty still affects me today," Ferdinand confessed. "But to say that I played in the FA Cup final and arguably the best FA Cup final that's ever been played in terms of the actual two teams going at each other, because normally it's a cagey affair [I'm very proud].

"Us and Liverpool went at each other and it became a fantastic spectacle. There are so many good players who have played in the Premier League, who can't say they played in a final. I'm standing here as one who has."

Jose Reina, the Liverpool goalkeeper, saves penalty from Anton Ferdinand of West Ham United which gives victory to Liverpool in the FA Cup Final match between Liverpool and West Ham United at the Millennium Stadium on May 13, 2006 in Cardiff, Wales
Reina saved Ferdinand's penalty in Cardiff -Credit:Photo by Ben Radford/Getty Images

A year later, Ferdinand played a significant role in England U21s' remarkable journey to the semi-finals of the Euros. He faced off against a Dutch team featuring a young Ryan Babel and Royston Drenthe.

Ferdinand took the sixth penalty and scored decisively. Relief must have flooded him as he made the long walk back to his teammates on the halfway line. Incredibly, another 19 penalties were taken and he had to make the long walk once more.

Just like in the FA Cup, Ferdinand missed his penalty, giving the Netherlands the chance to reach the final. Gianni Zuiverloon scored from 12-yards to make the score 13-12, sending England home from the tournament.

"I think it was just a matter of 'Let's go and try and do it again'," Ferdinand responded, when asked what went through his mind when he realised the shoot-out was coming back round to him again. "However, it weren't meant to be and that's my story.

"I'm not going to sit here and dwell on it. I didn't want to dwell in at the time because I'd been through it the year before in the FA Cup final. But when you score your first penalty, you don't expect it to come back round. But it just happened to be part of that story.

"It's not nice. It's horrible. Football is a game of ups and downs and if you dwell on the downs, it's going to affect you. The quicker you can get over moments, the better it will be for you within your career."

Ferdinand was speaking at the final training camp of his FIVE FC team before they head to Mexico to represent the UK in the Kings World Cup at the end of this month. The Kings World Cup is the first international tournament from the Kings League, created by former Barcelona and Manchester United legend, Gerard Pique and will feature teams from around the world and a host of legendary players including Neymar, Eden Hazard, Francesco Totti and Sergio Aguero. For more information on the Kings World Cup, including how to watch online, see here