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Last Updated: Friday, 11 April, 2003, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Jackett's happy memories
By Stuart Roach

Kenny Jacket (right) during his spell as Watford assistant manager
Jackett (right) with former Watford boss Graham Taylor
Watford FA Cup finalist Kenny Jackett believes the club's current crop of cup heroes can pull off a shock against Southampton.

Jackett tasted Wembley glory in 1984 when the unfancied Hornets won through to the FA Cup final before losing 2-0 to Everton.

The club has not been in a major final since but Jackett believes Ray Lewington's side can upset the odds in Sunday's Villa Park semi-final.

While Lewington's First Division side do not boast the individual stars of Graham Taylor's 1984 set-up, Jackett is convinced they still have the players to surprise Saints.

On-loan Newcastle teenager Michael Chopra is set to start following his remarkable four-goal haul against Burnley and Jackett claims his signing is perfectly timed.

"His arrival is a real bonus," Jacket told the BBC Sport website.

"I think he will play Chopra on Sunday. He has come in and offered them a real goal threat and he is an outstanding young talent."

Lewington claims Chopra's arrival and the fact that he is not cup-tied has given him a selection headache.

Watford winger John Barnes in the 1984 FA Cup final defeat to Everton
Chopra could emulate the impact that Barnes made on Watford
But Jacket, who remains a keen follower of Watford's fortunes despite now being employed by Queens Park Rangers, believes Chopra will not only play but will also dictate Lewington's game plan.

"I think they can win the game by attacking Southampton which I am sure they will go and do.

"I think Ray will go into the game completely positive with no nerves and no fear," said Jacket, who was assistant manager to Taylor during his second spell at Vicarage Road.

He added: "As well as Chopra, Ray has one or two other very good players, some very talented youngsters.

"Micah Hyde is a good player and they have Paul Robinson and Neil Cox, who has done an excellent job for them.

"Watford have knocked out two Premier League sides already and I do feel they can do that to Southampton.

"I wouldn't say that there will be one particular area that Watford need to attack or exploit but I feel they have players who on one particular day can do very well.

"I sincerely hope that that day is on Sunday."

Former Watford chairman Elton John at Wembley in 1984
Watford were rocking under Elton John
Jackett has tasted both the bitter and sweet flavours of an FA Cup semi-final having also been part of the Watford side that lost 4-1 to Spurs at Villa Park in 1987.

Wembley famously brought a tear to the eye of chairman Elton John after Watford lost in 1984, but Jacket felt worse after the Villa Park defeat.

"To me, there is no doubt that losing a semi-final is far worse than losing the final itself," Jacket said.

"I would love to be able to tell the Watford players how special a Cup final is, because if they knew that would spur them on to really reach out for it.

"But that's something you only know by experiencing it.

"Losing a semi is a horrible feeling."

Watford's class of '84 is clearly a side that retains a special place in Jacket's heart - and he remembers Taylor's team with a real sense of pride.

"We had some outstanding players.

"John Barnes was an established England international and was on his way in the next year or two to playing for Liverpool and, in my opinion, become just about the best player in the country.

"We also had Maurice Johnstone, who was an outstanding goalscorer.

"In terms of the top division, those two players were as good as almost anyone around.

"I don't think that Watford have now necessarily got anyone of their quality but they have got a very solid squad and they have got one or two outstanding young players who could go on and do very well in the game."




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