Duncan hopes UEFA Cup dream won't stop

Ex-Norwich youth keeper Duncan Roberts is desperate to prolong his 'Roy of the Rovers' UEFA Cup fairytale today with current club Llanelli AFC.

Ex-Norwich youth keeper Duncan Roberts is desperate to prolong his 'Roy of the Rovers' UEFA Cup fairytale today with current club Llanelli AFC.

The Wisbech-born stopper - who had two spells with his hometown side and a stint at neighbours King's Lynn - stands between Swedish first division outfit Gefle and a potential dream second qualifying round tie against giants Glasgow Rangers or Newcastle.

Last season's League of Wales runners-up defend a slender 2-1 lead from the first leg at Sweden's national stadium.

The Welsh minnows - managed by former Arsenal midfielder Peter Nicholas - can count on a partisan 3,000 home support and national television audience after the showpiece game was switched to Llanelli Scarlets' Stradey Park.

You may also want to watch:

“These two matches are definitely the biggest of my life,” said the 27-year-old. “I was on the bench at Oldham when we faced QPR in the playoffs but it's not the same as actually taking part.

“This will be a totally different match from the first one. The expectation and pressure is now on us. The draw for the next round is Friday when the big boys come in. I'm sure if we got through and pulled Rangers then Ibrox would be a sell out. I don't know about facing Newcastle and Damien Duff - I'd probably have to brick up the goal with breeze blocks.”

Most Read

The Reds pulled off a minor giant killing act to beat the 14-1 ON Swedes in the opening leg.

“We went in totally blind in terms of what to expect,” he said. “Peter Nicholas had a friend in Sweden but we didn't know a great deal. It was brilliant playing at the national stadium. We trained on the pitch the night before and it felt like we were Man United or something. They scored early but we managed to hit back. I had a bit to do but it was mainly dealing with crosses - they were very route one.”

The nomadic Roberts admits his European adventure came out of the blue after prematurely giving up the game.

“I had stopped playing for six months but I was with Peter at Newport and he offered me a chance when he got the Llanelli job,” he said. “We've got a few full time lads but I also work with adults who have learning difficulties - which is a job I enjoy. I met my wife down here too and Llanelli is a lovely place.

“The league is not the best but for the top clubs they have that European incentive. People can slag off the Welsh league but not many can say they have played in the UEFA Cup. I wouldn't have got this opportunity playing in the Dr Martens as it was in my day.

“Now I've got it I'm determined to make the most of it.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus