Paddy Madden took to Twitter immediately after Scunthorpe’s victory over Leyton Orient set up a third round FA Cup trip to Stamford Bridge.
He retweeted an image of Chelsea skipper John Terry, with tears streaming down his face.
“When you realise you’re facing @Paddymadden very soon,” read the text.
The cheeky 25-year-old striker just couldn’t resist sharing the image with his 12,000+ followers.
“I don’t think he’d be crying after drawing us,” he laughed. “Not like he was after missing the peno in the Champions League final but hopefully we can cause an upset on Sunday, and make a few of them cry.”
Madden, Scunthorpe’s 13-goal striker, will get up close and personal with Terry should the former England star be selected for Sunday’s game, but it’s someone who won’t be at the Bridge that he wishes he could meet.
Jose Mourinho was still the Blues manager when the draw was made on December 15, only to be sacked two days later — the culmination of an incredible run of results just months after lifting the Premier League trophy.
The home fans will still sing his name on Sunday, but little do they know a member of the travelling squad share their disappointment in the Portuguese’s absence.
“For me, he’s still the best manager in the world and I was a bit disappointed he’d gone because I’d have loved to meet him,” Madden said.
“I’ve grown up watching the Premier League and the stuff Jose has done in his career... any football fan would want to meet him.
“He’s an incredible manager and maybe after the game I’d have liked to give shake his hand. You don’t often get to shake the hand of a manger who’s won the Champions League.”
Not often, but Madden has form; the then League of Ireland player made a beeline to Alex Ferguson when he was in charge of the Manchester United side that played a League of Ireland XI in Aviva Stadium in 2010, when the newly-refurbished Lansdowne Road hosted its first soccer match.
“I didn’t talk to Alex, but I did run over to get a handshake.”
Guus Hiddink might not fit into the same box as Fergie and Jose, but Madden knows they all operate in a different galaxy to Scunthorpe. The Irons made 11 signings last summer, but none of the players required a transfer fee — and even Madden’s £300,000 fee would just about cover the weekly wage of one or two of Chelsea’s superstars.
The chance to play at Stamford Bridge excites Madden.
“You want the big teams, because we’re League One players and you don’t get many opportunities to play in Premier League stadiums,” he said. “Myself and Stephen Dawson were in my place, watching the draw and the Premier League clubs kept getting each other, but when we were pulled out with Chelsea we were jumping around.
“You have to take the big teams when they come; a lot of us won’t get the chance to play at Stamford Bridge again.”
Unfortunately for Madden and Co, the Blues appear a different animal since Mourinho’s departure, with last week’s 3-0 cruise past Crystal Palace showing signs of a group of players ready to play to their potential again.
For a professional like Madden, the slip in form was difficult to understand, but he believes the players have not lost any of the quality that saw them become Chelsea stars in the first place.
“Other teams may be getting stronger in the Premier League but there must have been some unsettlement in the camp, maybe players not getting on with each other, or a loss of respect for the staff — there could be a lot of reasons,” he said.
“It is strange how they can go from winning the league to being in the bottom half of the table in the new year — something’s clearly gone on. You can’t drop that far with a squad that’s probably stronger than last year, but it’s hard to be sure.”
Looking at the players likely to line up against Scunthorpe on Sunday, Madden believes they still have the strongest squad in the Premier League and could yet lift the Champions League trophy this season. But he’s not giving up on an FA Cup miracle.
“We’re League One players, and we’d never disrespect a team playing at the highest level, and we know we have to be at our best to have any chance, but Chelsea were in great form when Bradford beat them last year, having been 2-0 down as well.
“We can’t think ‘we’re going to be beaten by X number of goals’ — because all it takes is one player to have an off day, one player to make a mistake, and we can score a goal. That’s the beauty of football.”
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