Hull City's FA Cup semi-final win over Sheffield United may have booked the English Premier League club their first trip to the final, but the Tigers are also on target to achieve another slice of history.
Thanks to their 5-3 victory over United, Ahmed Elmohamady is set to be the first Egyptian to appear in the 143-year-old competition's finale, with his first appearance at Wembley already making waves back home.
“I am the first Egyptian player to play in a semi-final at Wembley and now in the final as well, it will be fantastic,” said the 26-year-old full-back. “I'm very proud. Everyone [back home] watched the game today and I think everyone is happy we have made it into the final.”
Arsenal's penalty shoot-out win over Wigan Athletic will see Hull square up against the Gunners on 17 May, and a few of Elmohamady's countrymen could suffer from split-loyalties when the sides return to national stadium. “In Egypt there are a lot of fans who support Arsenal, so it will be good there. Wembley, for everyone around the world, is a huge thing. To play at Wembley is fantastic, I'm proud to be here.”
The rampaging Egyptian international, whose slide-rule pass presented Hull with their first goal, now has his sights set on taking the Tigers into Europe. Should Arsenal finish fourth, Hull's passage into the UEFA Europa League would be confirmed, while a win in the club's first final would also guarantee continental football next season. “Everyone is buzzing about [becoming the first Hull team to reach the final], we all know about it and getting to play at Wembley for a second time this is season is great for us,” he said.
“We are really looking forward to [the chance of] playing in Europe too, particularly coming in the first season after we have got promoted. To play a final at Wembley against Arsenal and to go into Europe would be fantastic opportunity for us to make some great history, and leave us with a huge season.”
Wembley, for everyone around the world, is a huge thing... I'm proud to be here.
While cautious, midfielder Jake Livermore believes Wigan's performance against Arsenal proves they could produce a shock to maintain Hull's 100 per cent record at the new Wembley. “You saw yesterday [when Arsenal played] against Wigan, and the first half today was exactly the same. Hopefully we can half cause an upset, so to speak,” he said.
“There's no two ways about it, they're a great side so regardless of how they are playing now, you can't look at that, and anything can happen in the FA Cup. This is Arsenal we're talking about, they've been at the top for over a decade now. These are the games you want to be involved in against the top sides.”
In what was a topsy-turvy match, Hull found themselves 2-1 down at the break before turning the tide in the second half with two quick-fire goals. “It was always going to be difficult to judge, with all due respect, how a side from League One is going to attack [the game], and we half got it wrong in the first [period], whether it was nerves or something,” Livermore admitted. “But credit to Sheffield United, I thought they were fantastic today.”
In opening the scoring for the League One side, there was also a special moment for United forward Jose Baxter for whom the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, which was marked before the game, had special significance.
His father Alan, and uncle Ray were both among the fans packed into the Leppings Lane end of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989, but managed to escape the crush that claimed the lives of 96 supporters.
Both teams wore armbands to pay their respects, which the Liverpudlian pointedly celebrated with after heading the third-tier side ahead after 19 minutes. “My dad and uncle were there and even driving past it they get quite emotional, and if they're emotional I am too,” the former Everton trainee said. “A lot of Liverpool fans lost their lives that day and it was an honour to wear [the armband] today.”
“They jumped over the wall before it all happened as it was getting a bit too crammed, but they were obviously upset for a lot of people from Liverpool and we've all stuck together through thick and thin. When we got the armbands before the game, I saw it and I thought [the celebration] would be a nice little touch if I could get on the scoresheet.”