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Inside Story: Distin on another emotional Everton reunion and making more magical cup memories

Posted: Fri 19 Feb 2016

I couldn’t believe it when we drew Everton in the FA Cup – not only because it was Everton but because we have already played one of my former teams, Portsmouth, in the previous round!

I only need to play Newcastle and Manchester City in the cup this season to have played all my former teams, so if Newcastle were still in the competition I would have liked to have played them both en route to the final - that would have been perfect!

When we last played Everton back in November, it was an emotional day for me. It was special because it was the first time I played against them since I had left. 

Before the game I was fine but after I realised it was a strange feeling. I was playing against my mates and I felt like I still belonged there a little bit. It affected me more than I thought it would but it was lovely to catch up with them all, especially Tim Howard and Jimmy the masseur, who I am friendly with.

The game itself was crazy. I have seen a lot in football but that was strange! It was a game where we thought we were back in it, then they scored in the last minute and then before we knew it we had scored again! 

I got a good reception from the Everton fans that day and I think that showed I must have done the right things when I was there. I am honest person and so sometimes we fell out on social media because I voiced my opinions, but they knew I always gave my best for the club. 

This time I think I will be more comfortable with the game. I am looking forward to seeing some friends and playing them again, but more than anything I want to win and progress with this team.

It will be a tough game. Everton have been a little bit inconsistent but they have a lot of quality in the team. I have seen them play quite a few times, and sometimes they are amazing. They are still one of the first results I look out for, instinctively I check because I still have friends there.

This of course is an FA Cup game, a competition we are taking seriously. Some people say that because we have made changes, it means you aren’t but I don’t think that. It just gives other people the chance in the squad to play. The cup game is a different flavour and a different atmosphere and anything can happen, it’s hard to describe.

It is still a fantastic competition and for me it is magical. I am fortunate enough to have won it once at Portsmouth, which perhaps out of all of the clubs I have played for it was the club I least expected to lift the trophy at. People need to realise it’s not as easy as people think. There aren’t that many different teams that win the cup, it’s not given to anybody, which shows what a special achievement it is.

If I am honest, I can’t remember too much of the FA Cup final with Portsmouth because again it is just another game, you have to treat it that way. I still prepared in the same way, the media is still the same and we still had lots to focus on because we were still doing well in other competitions too, so it all went quite quickly. 

Also all I can really remember in the days before is people asking me for my tickets, as I had my family over here from France too for the game! My phone didn’t stop.

Being at Wembley is special, when you get there you start to realise the magnitude of the game you’re about to play in. It’s an amazing stadium, completely neutral and it’s one of the only times you play in a stadium where it’s 50-50 with fans from both sides.

What I can remember from the game is looking at the clock a lot in the last few minutes, because we were winning 1-0 and I was hoping we would hold on. 

As soon as the referee blew the whistle, there were a few seconds when I didn’t really know what to and then it hit me; I realised I had won a trophy and we all went a bit crazy. They were nice moments, being together and walking up the steps to lift the trophy and get a medal.  

I can’t say I will be thinking about it ahead of tomorrow’s game. I take each game as it comes and focus on the task in hand and always give my all to win regardless. But to win it here with this club would be amazing. I am coming to the end of my career and so to finish with winning a trophy would be perfect. 

Staying up is the main focus, but doing the double would be nice – I would take it!
Watch all the pre-match build up to AFC Bournemouth v Everton on Cherries Player HD.

Captain Tommy Elphick and Eddie Howe both give their thoughts ahead of the FA Cup tie, whilst there is also an emotional montage of the last time the two sides met.