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Last Updated: Monday, 14 April, 2003, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Ormerod earns reward
By John May

Southampton striker Brett Ormerod
Ormerod celebrates with Beattie after beating Watford

Every FA Cup semi-final throws up a hero, and you would not find a more unlikely one than Brett Ormerod.

The striker's is a true rags to riches tale, that only needs one more twist to make it into a perfect Hollywood script.

Ormerod was the Southampton hero with a goal and an assist to help his side beat Watford and set up an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal.

But the path to glory for the 26-year-old has been paved with adversity.

He has had to recover from being tossed on the scrapheap by Blackburn and earning 140-a-week in a cotton mill playing non-league football to try and rebuild his dream.

Ormerod had a spell lying in a hospital bed with a double broken leg just after resurrecting his professional career before being spotted playing for Blackpool by an out-of-work manager who pledged to buy him once he got back into the game.

When you're lying in a hospital bed with a double broken leg you never dream you could be playing in a Cup final
Brett Ormerod

It's enough to bring a tear to a glass eye, yet all Ormerod was happy about was the prospect of lifting his mates a few quid from the bookies.

Ormerod had endured a 24 game goalless drought before nodding Southampton's first past Alex Chamberlain.

"People kept reminding me how long it was since I last scored," he said.

"It was a long time but it didn't bother me.

"All it did was improve my odds on scoring the first goal and hopefully all my mates got some money on me."

If the prize of an FA Cup final is the biggest moment in Ormerod's career, it's all the sweeter as he has known some rank ones.

Perhaps the lowest was breaking his tibia and fibula in his leg for Blackpool in October 1999.

You have to hold on to your dreams because the only person who can really make them happen is you
Brett Ormerod

"When you're lying in a hospital bed with a double broken leg, you never dream you could be playing in a Cup final.

"But not for one moment did I think I would never play again.

"I was lucky, it was a clean break, it mended well and I never had any trouble with it while I was rehabilitating.

"That was probably the lowest point of my career.

"The next was being rejected by Blackburn. Me and James Beattie were there at the same time and we faced some tough competition from the likes of Alan Shearer and Kevin Gallagher."

Ormerod went back to basics to fulfil his dream, playing for Accrington Stanley while working in a cotton mill.

"I always believed in my own ability, and I've a lot to thank Accrington for.

"Accrington gave me the confidence to step up and play at this level.

"I'm still friendly with the chairman and directors and I'm sure they will be begging me for tickets."

Ormerod's next break came thanks to what strike partner Beattie described as: "One of those strange important decisions that can affect your life."

Gordon Strachan was doing what all in-between-jobs managers do in getting round to grounds to look at players and keep their face in public view when he spotted Ormerod.

He was so impressed he vowed that his first task in getting back into management would be to buy Ormerod.

The little Scot kept his word when he took over at Southampton, paying Blackpool 1.5m for the forward.

"If somebody told me 18 months ago that I would be playing in an FA Cup final, I wouldn't have believed them.

"But you have to hold on to your dreams, because the only person who can really make them happen is you."


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