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Nigel Martyn Reveals: Palace, Everton and The Full Members' Cup

18 October 2018

Nigel Martyn was English football's first £1 million goalkeeper, and he played 349 times for Palace over seven years

Ahead of Sunday's trip to Everton, we spoke with former Palace, Toffees and England shot-stopper Nigel Martyn to get his run-down on the weekend's game and more.

Few footballers can be regarded as a true legend for more than one club. Typically, it’s one, the other, or none.

Nigel Martyn however - a player accustomed to managing the impossible - has been lionised by fans of four separate clubs. In a way that’s rare in football, his various stints are regarded fondly by everyone who has supported him, especially those from Crystal Palace.

Martyn was voted into Palace’s Centenary XI, which sought to create the greatest side of Eagles players from our first 100 years. He notched up an impressive 349 appearances between the posts for the red and blues.

Here's what 'Big Nige' had to say when we spoke to him this week.

“There’s an opportunity there for Palace” - Sunday’s game

“I think Palace need a win or two just to get things going. But it’s been a sort of mixed start and Everton similarly have won some good games but also dropped points in certain games that they probably would have wanted to have won.

“It’s hard to predict because just before the break it looked like Everton were coming into a bit of form. Sometimes a break for internationals messes that sort of thing up.

“It’s certainly a chance for both teams to really pick up a win. It’s difficult to say who’s definitely going to win but I think there’s an opportunity there for Palace if I’m being honest.”


“Outfielders will be feeling the physical effect” - International breaks

Several members of both Palace and Everton’s team were involved in international fixtures over the past week. Having played 23 times for England, Martyn was able to shed some light on the effect that extra matches can have on players.

“It probably wasn’t so bad for me in the position I played because, as a goalkeeper, the actual playing of the game isn’t so physically demanding on you. Mentally it’s a bit draining but physically it’s not. Whereas the outfielders will be feeling the physical effect of having to play another game or a midweek game.

“Some will have played the weekend and again midweek and will then be expected to play at their clubs. So physically they might not quite be at the levels they want to be at.

“I think there might be one or two strange results this weekend with [some] players having played more games than others.”

“We really desperately wanted to win” - Winning the Full Members’ Cup

Crystal Palace won the 1991 Full Members’ Cup with Martyn keeping goal for the Eagles. The final was a 4-1 win over this week’s opponents Everton. Notably, Ian Wright scored his first of the day’s two assisted from distance by the Palace No.1.

“At that time we had a good side and we finished third that year in the old First Division. That, by no means, was a big feat. [The Full Members’ Cup] wasn’t the most important once we started it but obviously the further we progressed the more important it got for us and then, you know, it was a Wembley final. We did take it seriously come the end of the tournament. We really desperately wanted to win it.

“Looking back I can remember making a save from Dave Watson from quite close in and I think it [the game] was 1-1 and it went into extra time. I think this [save] was before the final whistle of the full 90 minutes. So if they’d scored, they would have won 2-1 so it was quite an important save. We just took off from there really and proved a bit too strong going on into the extra time.

“[Winning] was great. Obviously the year before we lost the Cup Final to Manchester United in a replay and that was disappointing so it was good to get back to Wembley so quickly and to win a cup. To see Geoff [Thomas] go up there and lift it was a great moment for us all really and for the club.”

“We were made to suffer” - Missing out on Europe

Despite coming runners-up in the 1990 FA Cup and finishing third in the old First Division, Crystal Palace were not allowed to compete in the UEFA Cup due to the ban on English football teams playing in Europe. Palace were kept out in 1990 and then again in ‘91 as Liverpool were permitted to re-enter, thus assuming the Eagles’ place.

“We were made to suffer and we missed out because had we have had European football, that might have been enough to make some players stay. The chance to go to Arsenal was a big one for Ian but perhaps if we’d have been in Europe he’d have wanted to stay and similarly Geoff Thomas and Brighty.

“The unfortunate thing about that was that we had a really good manager in Steve Coppell, we had a great side at that time that really could have gone on to bigger and better things. If [Europe] was still in place maybe we could have kept that team a bit longer.”

"A really nice way to finish" - Playing for Everton

Martyn went to Everton from Leeds in 2003. He had previously been the first ever goalkeeper to cost £1 million when he signed for Palace and then re-set his own record for a ‘keeper’s transfer fee when moving to United for £2.25 million. He moved to Everton aged 36 and found some of the best form of his life there, seeing the club achieve their highest ever Premier League finish of fourth in 2005.

“I’d spoken to David Moyes and he said that Richard [Wright] had an injury and was really struggling with it at that time. There was a strong chance that I could get in the team and he did promise me that if I got in and did well I’d remain in the side so it was an opportunity for me to get back and start playing again. I felt like I still had two or three seasons in me and I wanted to play in the Premier League.

“I was thankful to David Moyes and Everton for giving me an opportunity and I had three great seasons there. I had a great time at Everton, it was a really nice way to finish my career.”

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