Former goalkeeper Jimmy Walker says Alan Pardew made key decision which cost West Ham the FA Cup

Alan Pardew

Former West Ham United goalkeeper Jimmy Walker says Alan Pardew could have avoided the agonising 2006 FA Cup final defeat to Liverpool if he had played him.

The 2005/6 season will be forever remembered by Hammers fans who witnessed an exciting journey to the FA Cup final where they stood the chance to win their first major trophy for 26 years.

There they faced Rafa Benitez's Liverpool side who, despite being 2-0, 2-1 and 3-2 down in the game, managed to take the Hammers to penalties in one of the most epic finals of all time.

Dubbed the 'Gerrard final' such was Liverpool skipper Steven's influence on the match, the Anfield side had an unforgettable 35-yard strike from their talisman to thank for saving them at the death when it looked like West Ham's name was on the cup.

And it is that goal which Walker, a sub for the occasion as Shaka Hislop played what would be his last game for the East Londoners, claims he would have saved had he been playing.

Speaking to a fans' YouTube channel, Walker said he had been pestering his manager for weeks leading up to the final that he should play and had been performing brilliantly in training.

But Pardew elected to go with Hislop, citing that it would be his last game for the Hammers and that the Trinidadian had played in every round as his reasons.

Now for the first time Walker has claimed it is a decision he feels cost the Hammers the FA Cup.

"Listen Shaka's a top, top goalie and a great lad so I could understand what he was saying, it would have been really harsh to drop him but I wanted to play badly," he told the fans' YouTube channel.

"It was was hard to hear but as soon as I left the room I was just getting the lads together and it was time to get behind everyone which I did and it was just amazing to be part of.

"But I did remind Pards after the game, Gerrard shoots from 40 yards, low down, that was my game and I would have tipped that round the post and changed history.

"It didn't go down too well, I don't think it was the time or the place.

"But I do honestly believe that was my game, low down, I'd like to think I'd have tipped that round the post and changed history and we'd have had a winners medal instead."

At 3-3 after extra-time, the game went to penalties with Liverpool emerging triumphant.

Gerrard famously paid tribute to the West Ham fans for the way they reacted following the heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat and the team won the hearts of neutrals everywhere for pushing the Reds all the way.

But now, nearly a decade on, the Hammers are still without a major trophy since that 1980 FA Cup win over Arsenal.

It is galling to think just how different things might have been had Walker, as he has claimed, been on the pitch to tip the ball to safety.

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