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Scott Minto Q&A: Chelsea, Benfica and Sky Sports presenting…

August 15, 2019

To be honest with you, it was a bit surreal
really. When you’re 17 you don’t really think, you just kind of do. I remember I played in
The FA Youth Cup final for Charlton as a schoolboy and had to ask my school for permission to
get time off as we progressed through the rounds, and then played in The FA Youth Cup
final. We lost that final against Coventry, that was 1987, and that was three days before
they played Spurs in the real FA Cup final, so there were 17,000 people there and as a
15-year-old kid was absolutely amazing. I remember my youth coach telling me within
18 months you’ll be in the first team and I didn’t believe him at all, but I was, maybe
not as a regular but I’d played first team football. I think it was QPR, the first league game
I came on as a substitute. My memories are of just of feeling a little bit overawed,
playing with the first team, training with the first team as a 16, 17-year-old kid and
then going out and playing in what was then Division One, the Premier League. So it was
an amazing experience and I certainly didn’t believe it would happen, definitely not at
this age, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and even at 15 if you’d have told me how it would
all go, I’d have snapped your hand off. I mean my memory of that day was, we kind of
just felt going through the rounds, and I’m not a superstitious person but what happened
at Liverpool where we came back from 2-0 down to win 4-2, against Leicester where we got
a very cheeky penalty in the very last minute of extra time, when it could have gone to
penalties, I felt our name was on the cup. And what with Robbie scoring after 45 seconds,
43 seconds, whatever it was, you just kind of felt that it was going to be a fantastic
day. I remember walking out from the tunnel, again I’d been more nervous in other games,
sometimes in pre-season games, but I just wasn’t nervous for this one, it felt natural. I have
to say, from a personal point of view and a team point of view, it couldn’t have gone
much better. The FA Cup final was my last game for Chelsea, because my contract had
run out, Chelsea had offered me a contract, I wasn’t happy for a few reasons, and I was
told that Benfica were interested, along with Deportivo La Coruña and Bordeaux, but that
Benfica was the best option. I just thought to myself, a fantastic club, an historic club
and I signed, and I have to say I had my best pre-season there, we finished second
in the first season and I would have stayed out there for many years but, in the end,
West Ham came in for me and offered me a very good deal. In reverse order, because I’m asked
this quite regularly: third place would be Paolo Di Canio. He was such a special talent,
not the quickest but he could have the ball 20 yards out with a, defender and a goalkeeper,
six or seven seconds later, the defender and the goalkeeper would be on their backside
and he’d be trotting the ball into the net. He was an incredible talent.
Ruud Gullit would be number two, because he came to Chelsea when apparently his knees
were shot, well if his knees were shot, then I can’t begin to believe how good he must
have been in his heyday. But the best I have to say is Gianfranco Zola. He was, very
much like Paolo, an incredible talent, his first touch was amazing, and we had some incredible
players in that ’97 side, and I wouldn’t say it would go as far to say this, but it
was almost a case of give Franco the ball, and he’ll sort it out for us. He was that
good. The best player I played against, I played against the likes of Bergkamp and Henry,
Cantona, marked Beckham a few times. I have to say the person that gave me my most difficult
game of my career was Anders Limpar when he was at Everton. He was one of those where
sometimes you could keep him quiet, other times when he was hot, he was very hot, you
couldn’t get near him. Unfortunately that day he was very hot. Well I have to say now
I’m pretty okay with the presenting, the early days of that presenting was probably my most
nerve-racking but I’m okay now. With playing, I mean there were sometimes when you get nervous
and there are other times, like my biggest game of my career, The FA Cup final and I
wasn’t, so it’s a strange one. It’s a very good question, but I have to say I’m pretty
relaxed about both now.

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