'Greatest FA Cup final upset for quarter of a century' - The story of Wigan Athletic upsetting Manchester City

Wigan Athletic put up a brilliant show in the 2013 FA Cup final as they overcame the odds and beat Manchester City in a pulsating match but their season would be bitter sweet.

Wigan Athletic upset the odds and registered a famous 1-0 win against Manchester City in the FA Cup final. (Image credit: Twitter)

On paper, the clash between Wigan Athletic vs Manchester City was indeed the battle of David vs Goliath, with David having very little chances of a win. Wigan had never won a trophy in their 81-year history. Manchester City, on the other hand, had won the FA Cup and the Premier League in two consecutive years. The financial power of Wigan and Manchester City was like chalk and cheese. Remarkably, against the odds, Wigan Athletic made it to the final of the FA Cup where they would play Manchester City. It would only be a matter of time that Manchester City would have another trophy in their cabinet.

Before the final, there was immense pressure. For Wigan Athletic though, there were some moments of inspiration. Just before the final, there was an envelope found at the door of every Wigan player. In those envelopes, there were strips of paper on which there were some inspirational messages written by teammates and staff to each other. Wigan Athletic’s performance psychologist, Michael Finnigan, made the players, staff and kit men read around 30 statements about what everyone thought of each other.

Manager Roberto Martinez told the players before the final that the players’ family was watching them and it was a great chance to create history and carve a legacy. On the final day, there were 31000 Wigan Athletic fans in attendance in Wembley. The total population of Wigan town was 81000.

The dream comes true for Wigan Athletic

Wigan were led out on the park by chairman Dave Whelan. Whelan was a player who had played before in the FA Cup but had suffered a broken leg. In 1995, he took over the club. Whelan helped them win division three in 1997. Six years later, division two was also conquered. Wigan got promotion to the Premier League in 2005 and in 2006, they had finished 10th.

There was also one more moment which won the hearts of the fans. The Wigan Athletic team had a lucky mascot in the form of Joseph Kendrick. The young boy had a genetic disorder that affected his immune system. To fund research into his condition, a charity called ‘Joseph’s Goal’ was set up in 2012.

Playing with a 3-4-1-2 combination, Wigan Athletic totally surprised Manchester City. Carlos Tevez created some chances for Manchester City but Wigan held firm.

The goal with a broken leg, Wigan Athletic’s bittersweet run

Manchester City were reduced to 10-men when Pablo Zabaleta was sent off due to a second yellow card offense. In the 91st minute, Shaun Maloney’s corner at the near post was met by Ben Watson’s header. Watson netted the goal that gave Wigan Athletic a 1-0 win and sent the entire town into raptures. 

The goal from Watson also had a remarkable tale. He broke his leg in November 2012 and he did not play until May 2013. They did not celebrate with alcohol because they had a crucial game against Arsenal in the Premier League. 

However, Wigan Athletic were relegated in the Premier League and they became the first team to achieve an FA Cup win but also get relegated in the same season. The feat of Wigan Athletic continues to inspire many small teams. Wigan Athletic showed that anything was possible. On May 11, 2013, Wigan Athletic did the impossible.

Sportslumo Desk

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