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Keith Houchen can still remember the scene as though it were yesterday.

It was 5.30am on May 16, 1987. The mist was rising from the River Thames as Houchen jogged around the grounds of the Compleat Angler Hotel near Marlow, alone with his thoughts.

A matter of hours later, he would achieve FA Cup immortality on the grandest stage of all.

No rundown of the Cup’s greatest moments is complete without Houchen’s goal in Coventry’s 3-2 win over Tottenham in one of Wembley’s most memorable finals. Flinging himself full length towards Dave Bennett’s cross, Houchen executed a perfect diving header to ensure the game would go to extra time.

An own goal from Gary Mabbutt wrote Coventry’s name on the trophy for the first — and only — time in their history.

Keith Houchen scored a memorable goal in Coventry City's 1987 FA Cup win

Keith Houchen scored a memorable goal in Coventry City's 1987 FA Cup win 

The dramatic diving header helped the Sky Blues beat Tottenham at Wembley

The dramatic diving header helped the Sky Blues beat Tottenham at Wembley

Houchen (back row, third from left) and his team-mates won a thriller and he remembers the scene like yesterday

Houchen (back row, third from left) and his team-mates won a thriller and he remembers the scene like yesterday

Now, 37 years later, the Sky Blues are back at Wembley in the FA Cup for the first time since that indelible event in their history, and Houchen will be cheering them on from his home in North Yorkshire.

He fancies them to beat Manchester United on Sunday and guarantee another Wembley trip next month, though he concedes overcoming Manchester City in a possible final may prove a step too far.

As he greets Mail Sport outside his home, Houchen is accompanied by his boisterous sheepdog. He still looks trim enough at 63 to do another 120 minutes.

He coaches football twice a week in local primary schools and is a full-time grandfather to his five grandchildren, aged between five and 16. When required, he wakes at 6am to do the school run and has food on the table when the five return home.

Having represented seven clubs across an 18-year career, Houchen no longer follows the game’s every move but his mind is never far from the day that changed his life — and Coventry’s Cup run has brought it into sharper focus.

‘I’ve seen the goal a lot in the last couple of weeks,’ he smiles. ‘I think I was fated to score that day. I was awake at 5am on the morning of the game and I hated hotel rooms so I had to get out.

Houchen wheels away in celebration after scoring his side's second goal of the final

Houchen wheels away in celebration after scoring his side's second goal of the final

He dug out some of his old memorabilia to show off to Mail Sport, including this scarf

He dug out some of his old memorabilia to show off to Mail Sport, including this scarf

‘I had some training kit, so I put it on and went for a jog down by the river. Just half an hour, an hour — steady. There were lovely gardens at the hotel and you could see across to a church on the other side, where there was a wedding that day. It was the only little bit of time I had to myself.

‘I remember trying to visualise what the day would be like. There was a mist on the Thames and I thought, “I’m going to score today”. I wondered what sort of goal it would be. It was great it ended up being a diving header!

‘I’d been to Wembley when I was a young pro at Hartlepool, to watch the 1978 final between Ipswich and Arsenal. We slept in a Ford Escort at South Mimms Service Station. I remember thinking, “If it’s the only thing I do, I’ve got to play in a Cup final.” It took me long enough!

‘I never saw the goal for years but it was pretty good, if I say so myself. I scored similar goals when I was at Leyton Orient and Hartlepool but the timing was perfect. If you look at me really closely I’m smiling as I head it. As soon as I headed it I knew it was in. I’ve got a picture taken from another angle, in black and white. I’m diving and heading it and you have dozens of photographers clicking away behind the goal.

‘We used to call it the “POMO” — position of maximum opportunity. If I was at the near post I had to spin and run to the back post, in an arc, not a straight line. It drives me mad when I see modern players run in straight lines.

Houchen fancies Coventry City to upset Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final

Houchen fancies Coventry City to upset Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final

‘But it still has to be perfect, like a dance move that comes together. If Dave Bennett’s cross had been a tiny bit further in front of me, maybe I wouldn’t have reached it. Maybe it would have hit the post

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