Peter Rodrigues recalls being the last player to receive the FA Cup trophy from the Queen
‘She asked if I’d enjoyed the game… I was too tongue-tied to answer properly!’ Southampton FA Cup-winning captain Peter Rodrigues recalls being the last player to receive the trophy at Wembley from the Queen
- Peter Rodrigues was handed the FA Cup by the Queen at Wembley in 1976
- Second-division Saints stunned Manchester United to win the trophy
- Rodrigues called the encounter ‘one of the greatest moments of my life’
Peter Rodrigues, the last captain to receive the FA Cup from the Queen at Wembley, counted her as a lucky omen when Second Division Southampton shocked hot favourites Manchester United 1-0 in 1976.
With both teams usually playing in red, Saints wore a change strip, unaware their blue shorts would match the outfit Her Majesty had chosen to wear.
‘It was a special occasion that really started the night before when we were instructed at the hotel how to address the Queen, either Ma’am or Your Majesty,’ recalls Rodrigues, who had been a cup final loser seven years previously with Leicester City.
Peter Rodrigues captained Southampton to shock FA Cup win over Manchester United in 1976
‘They are memories that will live with me forever, from introducing Prince Philip to my team before the game — I remember him sharing a joke with our manager Lawrie McMenemy — to the end.
‘With us leading, I spent the last five minutes gazing up at the Queen and the cup that was next to her, thinking “I want to collect that from you, Ma’am”. And it happened, one of the greatest moments of my life.
‘Because we’d been in the dressing room when she’d arrived, we hadn’t seen what she was wearing. But when I walked up the steps past all the Saints fans, I saw she was in blue — I’m sure she wasn’t biased but maybe it was a sign.
‘Before I took the trophy, she congratulated me and asked if I’d enjoyed the game. I was too tongue-tied to answer properly, I just said thank you ma’am.
Rodrigues (left) became the final player to be handed the famous trophy by the Queen
‘This week with the very sad news, there have been pictures of it all over social media. It’s made me feel as proud as Punch. Winning the FA Cup was special, I shudder every year when I see the latest captain go up to lift it, but to receive it from the Queen — that was crazy. Incredible.’
Bobby Stokes scored the winner for Southampton in what is still regarded as one of the great all-time cup shocks.
Though horse racing was regarded as the Queen’s favourite sport, she did attend several cup finals earlier in her reign.
After 1976, she handed over Wembley duties to other members of her family and her grandson William is a keen football fan and president of the FA.
Then-United goalkeeper Alex Stepney recalled getting the opportunity to meet the late monarch the following year
For Saints team-mate Jim McCalliog, meeting the Queen that day completed a Royal hat-trick. ‘I’d played for Sheffield Wednesday against Everton in the 1966 cup final when Princess Margaret represented the Royal Family.
‘And when I played for Scotland against England, the players were introduced to Prince Philip,’ he said. ‘It was wonderful to meet the Queen. She had a lovely smile. As footballers, you were privileged to meet a lot of people and you never wanted to be boastful, but that was special.’
For losing United keeper Alex Stepney, there was to be a better meeting with Her Majesty the following year.
He said: ‘The cup final was a disappointment but the following year to mark the Jubilee, the Royal Yacht docked in Liverpool and I was invited to meet the Queen as Manchester United’s representative. It was a special day.’