Last time Damien Delaney was at Wembley Stadium after beating Watford, back in the 2013 play-off final, he was pictured on the side of the pitch, tears flowing down his face as the emotion of being promoted to the Premier League dawned on him.
After another victory at the famous old ground against Watford, this time in the FA Cup semi-final, the Irish defender was focussed and determined to make it three wins out of three for him in north west London as his Crystal Palace side prepare to face Manchester United in the FA Cup Final on May 21st.
Delaney has already won a cup final before - the FAI Youth Cup with Cork in 2000 - the defender himself opened the scoring with a 20-yard free-kick to help his side go on to win 3-1 before he moved to Leicester City after being signed by former Palace player and manager Peter Taylor.
And despite making the FA Cup Final for only the second time in the 111-year club history, Delaney was not going to start partying just yet.
“I’m not really celebrating too much about reaching the final because it’s not my end plan,” said Delaney. “I want to come here at the end of May and see where we end up. To be an FA Cup finalist means not much, but to be an FA Cup winner would mean everything.
“It wasn’t easy, there was a lot at stake; it’s not often that two teams like Palace and Watford get drawn in the semi-final and we’re delighted to come through it but it was a difficult day.
“We’ll see what we can do in the final, but it was a good day for us.”
Delaney is well-known for his heroics in the Palace defence and acknowledged that the whole squad played their part against Watford. At one point in the second half five Palace players were all down on the floor having thrown themselves in front of a Watford attack and Delaney himself saw stars after heading away to safety a full-blown Watford shot.
“We’ve always had that togetherness so hopefully that will see us well in the final,” said the 34-year-old. “We pride ourselves on giving it our all and it’s what we built ourselves on and hopefully that will continue into the final.
“Every day in training we’re like that – we’re the only team in the Premier League who five-a-side matches finish 0-0 but that shot [I headed away] rattled my brain - it didn’t come off my forehead it came off the top of my head, it just rattled me a little bit but I was fine afterwards.
“I just needed a couple of seconds to gather myself, but I was fine.”
Even though the Eagles lost 2-0 against Manchester United in the Premier League last week, the team they are likely to field on FA Cup Final day, like against Watford, will be completely different and despite Delaney admitting league form is important for the final, that United league match has been forgotten – especially so for Delaney who put through his own net to open the scoring.
“I had a horrible flashback at the end at the match when Watford flashed in the cross,” said Delaney. “It was just in between me and Wayne (Hennessey) and I think it was (Troy) Deeney who was behind me but I managed to get my foot around it and only managed to get it so far and then Dannsy or Mile headed it away to safety.
“But we’ve got a lot of big characters, a lot of people in this team who have played in big games before be it play-off finals, FA cups or other big games and we feel we have the experience in the side to deal with the final.
“I think that showed in the second half just to see the game out at 2-1 - there is a good experience in this side and a good togetherness.
“A lot of players have been injured so they’re fresher than those who have had to slog away during the winter months of January, February, March when we couldn’t buy a win (laughs).
“There were some tough, dark days there and these lads who have been injured and now come back will maybe have a fresher mindset than I have (laughs).”