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FA Cup final: 11 years on since Wigan stunned Man City

While much is made of the romance of the FA Cup, it is worth remembering that 13 of the last 15 trophies have been lifted by Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

The big clubs tend to dominate, as they will in 2024 with the second consecutive all-Manchester final.

However, there are times when the underdogs have their day, just as they did 11 years ago when Wigan Athletic won the trophy for the first time by beating Roberto Mancini's City. 

They became the first FA Cup winners to be relegated from the top flight in the same season, and they have not been back since, but here we look back to that memorable day and the history that was created.

FA Cup final 2023/24

Man City v Man Utd

The match 

The FA Cup final of 2013 came just short of a year after Manchester City had won their first Premier League title with Sergio Aguero’s famous late goal against QPR, but the rumours were that patience was wearing thin with manager Roberto Mancini. 

City had seen arch-rivals United win the title at their expense but surely everything would be fine as they had only struggling Wigan to see off at Wembley, in the first FA Cup final to have a 5.15pm kick-off. 

Most of the match was uneventful, despite Pablo Zabaleta becoming only the third player to be sent off in a final when he was shown a second yellow card by Andre Marriner, but then Wigan always had a puncher’s chance and that is exactly what transpired. 

They were awarded a corner a minute into injury-time just as extra time loomed and when Shaun Maloney swung the ball to the near post, Ben Watson, who had been on the field just 10 minutes after entering the fray as a substitute, rose highest and flicked the ball past Joe Hart.

Wigan were in dreamland, but the feeling was not going to last for long.

The fallout 

The Latics had been elected to the Football League in 1978 and this was clearly their finest hour, but disappointment loomed and it was only a few days before a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal condemned Roberto Martinez’s side to relegation. 

The manager was soon off too as he took the job at Everton, and he would lead the Toffees to fifth in the Premier League the following season. 

Mancini was sacked by City shortly after the final with assistant Brian Kidd taking charge until the end of the season before Manuel Pellegrini’s appointment.

The aftermath 

The clubs would head in different directions following the final, although the Latics would remain a thorn in City’s side in the FA Cup. 

Wigan beat them on their way to the semi-finals the following season before they were beaten by Arsenal, and then in 2018, when Wigan were in League One, they caused a huge shock when Will Grigg’s goal beat the team now managed by Pep Guardiola. 

But as City have gone from strength to strength under the Catalan and have just collected their fourth Premier League title in five years, Wigan have suffered. 

The Latics were relegated from the Championship in 2015 and then became a yo-yo club, winning League One in 2015-16 and 2017-18. 

Wigan fell into administration in 2020 and narrowly avoided relegation to League Two and, after winning League One again in 2021-22, they recently fell into the third tier once more after further points deductions.

Where are they now? 

But despite the hard times that have hit the DW Stadium, those who claimed their piece of history a decade ago are still celebrated as heroes to this day.

Martinez would take some of his players with him to Goodison and he stayed there until he was sacked in May 2016. 

He became Belgium manager later that year and, after resigning following last season’s World Cup, he took the reins as head coach of Portugal. 

Maloney, who claimed the assist for Watson’s famous goal, is now in charge at the DW and hoping he can put the club’s financial issues to one side and help them make another promotion push from League One next season. 

Goalkeeper Joel Robles headed to Everton where he made 42 appearances in five years and is still playing at Leeds, where he turned out six times in the recently completed campaign. 

Skipper Emmerson Boyce is the technical director of the Barbados FA, while Paul Scharner had been on loan from Hamburg at the time of the final and retired shortly afterwards. 

Antolin Alcaraz was another who followed Martinez and, aged 40, he can still be found playing for Paraguayan side Olimpia, and left-back Roger Espinoza was regularly turning out for Sporting Kansas City in the MLS before recently becoming the club’s youth-team manager. 

Key midfielders James McCarthy and James McArthur, who were both signed from Hamilton, are still playing at Celtic and Crystal Palace respectively, while Jordi Gomez, who also played for Swansea, Sunderland and Blackburn, is still involved with Cypriot side Omonia. 

Man-of-the-match Callum McManaman has not been involved in football since being released by Tranmere at the end of last season, and striker Arouna Kone, who played for just a solitary season for the Latics before going to Everton, last played for Turkish side Sivasspor two seasons ago. 

Which leaves goal hero Watson, who had joined the Latics from Crystal Palace in 2009. He went on to play for Watford, Nottingham Forest and Charlton with a modicum of success, but he will always be remembered for his moment in the spotlight when he became the scorer of one of the FA Cup final’s most famous goals.

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