Carling Legends - The fastest goal in FA Cup Final history

The fastest goal in FA Cup Final history, and what a goal it was!

The London club in the late 90s were like a technicoulred dream coat team compared to the monochromatic British institutions elsewhere.

It all started in 1995 with the headline grabbing arrivals of the Ballon d'Or winning Ruud Gullit, Mark Hughes from Manchester United, and Romanian wing-back Dan Petrescu. The next season would see Gullit replace Glen Hoddle in the dugout as a player manager. With his ascension to the gaffer gig, Gullit brought with him an agenda of 'Sexy Football'.

More signings arrived. French centre half Frank Lebouef, Italian sharpshooter Gianluca Vialli, future cult hero Gianfranco Zola, and crucially for 1997, Roberto Di Matteo. Unsurprisingly, the new signings improved Chelsea substantially. A cup run ensued with wins over West Brom, Liverpool, Leicester (after a replay), Portsmouth, and Wimbledon in the semi-finals.

The Blues were soundly beaten in the last Cup final appearance a few short years previous. A 4-0 defeat to a rampant Manchester United would might have left its mark on the team but for the prodigious recruitment of new talent. It also helped that their opponents in the 97 decider were a Middlesbrough team that had just been relegated from the top flight of English football. That being said, the Teesiders weren't short on imported talent themselves. Fabrizio Ravanelli, Emerson, and Juninho were to be respected. Could Chelsea take the early initiative, and make their superiority count? Could they ever!

Middlesbrough got the game underway, played it around the back, and in time honoured tradition and obligation of the era, the full back, Irishman Curtis Flemming in this instance, rifled a long high ball towards the diminutive Juninho. Chelsea handled that particular assault with ease, and regathered possession from a Middlesbrough throw. Denis Wise won the ball, he played it Robert Di Matteo. Di Matteo brought the ball forward.

Then he brought it forward a little more. This continued for some time until he was 30 yards from the 'Boro goal, unchallenged. Obliged to shoot, the Italian midfielder unleashed a rocket that did that most most perfect thing of smashing the crossbar on the way in. The fastest goal in FA Cup Final history, and what a goal it was.

1-0 it remained until the closing stages of the contest.
Eddie Newton had been a mainstay at Chelsea for over half a decade by the summer of 1997. It was at Wembley that he was to enjoy his most famous moment. Middlesbrough out of shape and out time were caught on the break. Newton steamed into the opponent’s half, plays it to Petrescu, who prods a perfect backpost cross to Zola.
An impudent flick later and Newton smashes the winner in for Chelsea. 
Success and entertainment would be become good friends at Stamford Bridge for many years after.

Find out more about amazing stories like this from Denis Irwin, with Carling at The Goalpost Pub Tullamore on Saturday 20th April to watch the Emirates FA Cup Semi Final⚽

Claim your FREE ticket and find out what it is like to play in an FA Cup Final by registering here 👉

Your FREE ticket includes a Carling welcome reception, food, a Q&A with Denis Irwin and a chance to win a signed shirt.

Over 18s only. Enjoy Responsibly. Get the facts. Be Drinkaware. Visit

Download Our App