Brighton boss Chris Hughton says upsetting “outstanding” Manchester City to reach the FA Cup final could spark a repeat of his exuberant celebrations when he first lifted the trophy as a player.
Hughton jumped for joy after helping Tottenham defeat City 3-2 in the 1981 final replay, a cherished memory he regards as his best in football.
The 60-year-old is two games away from repeating the feat as a manager, although his team are massive underdogs going into Saturday’s Wembley semi-final with Pep Guardiola’s quadruple-chasing side.
Hughton, who also won the competition with Spurs in 1982, knows the odds are stacked against the Seagulls and suggests a shock victory may cause him to temporarily dispense with his reserved nature.
“Even though we went on to win it again, and win the UEFA Cup, that would probably be my best memory,” said Hughton, recalling Tottenham’s 1981 success which included a memorable goal from Ricky Villa.
“I’ve got lots of pictures of me jumping up and down, which you don’t see so much of these days!
“I was a little bit younger, the knee was probably a bit in better shape and I was able to do those things.
“But certainly, if we were able to beat an outstanding Man City in the form that they’re in, then possibly the knee might be a younger knee, put it that way!
“We understand the level of the team we are up against, and we understand what the odds are.”
Asked if he may embark on a celebratory dash down the touchline, he replied: “I’m not sure I’d go to that extent! But a little bit more than normal, perhaps!”
Brighton are into the last four of the competition for just the second time in their history after losing the 1983 final to Manchester United.
Hughton, who feels his team must approach the tie with caution, has urged his players to seize a rare opportunity.
“As a manager and a coach I realise how difficult it is to get to this stage of the competition,” he said.
“And as a manager, it would be the first time I’ve done it, so it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to get through to a final. So that means an awful lot to me.
“It’s about the players because there are so many good players and probably, on paper, better players than we have got that have never got to this stage of a competition, and certainly not got to a final.
“And I really hope they can put on a performance they can be proud of.”
While Albion continue to fight for Premier League survival, opponents City can still end the season with four trophies.
As well as their FA Cup involvement, the Carabao Cup winners are battling Liverpool for the league title and face a two-legged Champions League quarter-final with Tottenham.
Hughton believes Guardiola’s men possess the quality to pull off an unprecedented quadruple.
“Are they capable of doing it? Yes, they are capable of doing it,” he said.
“I think we still can’t take away from the fact it’s very difficult to be able to do.
“They certainly have the squad and the depth of squad to do it.”
Brighton will be without Pascal Gross at Wembley due to a hamstring injury, while Solly March and Jurgen Locadia face fitness tests on their respective calf problems.