Frank Simek - The ex-Arsenal starlet aiming to embarrass Tottenham Hotspur

American Frank Simek will turn out for Carlisle United tonight against Tottenham Hotspur, aiming to help the Cumbrians pull off the shock of the round, and put a smile on the face of former club Arsenal, where he began his career.

As teams across the Football League will testify, Carlisle is not an easy place to go. The club is the most isolated in England, in Cumbria it is closer to Scotland that is is to Manchester, Newcastle, or any large city.

So for supporters of Tottenham Hotspur a long away trip lies ahead, and for the players too, who will not want to travel back being on the wrong end of a famous cup giant killing.

With Spurs likely to field a weakened side, and Carlisle riding as high as 10th in League One, such a result is very possible and should not be discounted.

One man who will be doing his utmost to make it happen, and who has made Carlisle his home in recent years, is an American who began his top flight career in English football at Tottenham's north London rivals Arsenal; Frank Simek.

Simek is a right-back who captained Arsenal's reserve team almost a decade ago. He did not make the grade at the Gunners, with competition in the Invincibles era tougher than ever, but the League Cup will hold special memories for him.

It was back in 2003 he played his one and only match for the Gunners, a 5-1 win over Wolves in the quarter-finals of the competition, which saw him line up alongside Patrick Vieira, Kanu, Sylvain Wiltord, and especially notably, Cesc Fabregas - who scored his first ever Arsenal goal in the game.

That happy memory remains a moment to cherish for the player, who after loan spells at QPR and Bournemouth, left the club a year-and-a-half later in search of regular football, and signed for Sheffield Wednesday on a free.

There he remained for five largely happy years, making more than 100 appearances, becoming a cult hero with the Owls fans thanks to his enthusiastic and physical style of play. His performances for Wednesday even earned him an international call-up for the USA where he was part of the Gold Cup winning squad in 2007.

A bad ankle injury in 2008 stopped him in his tracks, and while he recovered, he elected to move on in the summer of 2010, but not before he was rewarded with an international recall.

He is still highly regarded by Wednesday fans who follow his progress at Carlisle, where he has been a near ever-present when fit since signing. 

When he signed a new one-year deal this summer, boss Greg Abbot said: "He has played some excellent football since he joined us.He is a really hard worker who gives everything for the team."

Still only 27, the defender has a lot to give - and tonight offers the chance to finally become a hero to the Arsenal fans, and equally put himself in the shop window. He featured at the weekend against the Gunners opponents tonight Coventry, and his experience will be invaluable to Carlisle this evening.

On a wet and windy night in Cumbria in front of a packed 18,000 capacity Brunton Park, the winners will be the team who want it the most. If Tottenham's team do not come prepared, and think they can just cruise through, they may just become unstuck - and Simek would love that.

images: © wjarrettc

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