Beattie's medal joy

HE'S waited 27-long years, but today Ipswich Town footballing hero Kevin Beattie is finally ready to get his hands on a UEFA Cup medal.The legendary defender missed out on the prized trophy as injury ruled him out the Blues' final against AZ Alkmaar and only those who actually played were awarded the medal.

HE'S waited 27-long years, but today Ipswich Town footballing hero Kevin Beattie is finally ready to get his hands on a UEFA Cup medal.

The legendary defender missed out on the prized trophy as injury ruled him out the Blues' final against AZ Alkmaar and only those who actually played were awarded the medal.

The disappointment, which resulted in Beattie's only argument with his much-loved manager Sir Bobby Robson, has haunted him ever since.

Now 54, Beattie said he was looking forward to becoming the oldest person ever to be presented with a UEFA Cup medal once a new one has been specially created for him.

He said: “I'm absolutely over the moon that I can finally get a medal.

“It is a big regret that I didn't play. I remember like it was yesterday watching the final and I was kicking every ball with the players.

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“Substitutes got medals too and it was the only time I had an argument with the boss. I said 'just let me sit on the bench' but he said 'son I've got to have fit people on the bench'.

“Now I will finally be able to get the medal and show it to my grandchildren, and it does feel an honour because they are making it for me.”

UEFA has agreed to strike a new medal for the former Ipswich and England defender who only missed the crucial match after dislocating his shoulder in an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City.

At the time no one who did not play in the final was allowed a medal, but a softening of the rules since then has seen players who contributed in earlier rounds getting them in special circumstances.

In 1981, when Ipswich won the UEFA Cup, Beattie scored the vital third goal in the two-legged 3-2 win against Bohemians and made six other appearances.

The move by UEFA comes after an online petition was created to get Beattie the medal.

But Beattie will still have to wait a little longer though until UEFA can borrow another medal struck at the time as they have no copies. They are expected to ask Ipswich Town if they use one they have in their care in order to strike a replica to be presented at Portman Road.

Are you pleased Kevin Beattie will finally be getting his UEFA Cup medal? Do you think another player deserves a medal? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Kevin Beattie

Kevin Beattie was born in Carlisle, Cumbria, in December 1953

Beattie made his debut for England at Wembley in 1975 against Cyprus in a qualifier for the 1976 European Championships

He scored what has been named one of England's greatest fifty goals with a stunning, looping header as England beat Scotland 5-1 in 1975

Sir Bobby Robson nicknamed Beattie 'The Diamond' on the grounds that he had discovered a gem when his scouts sent him to watch the teenage Beattie play

After retiring in 1982 he played briefly at Colchester United and Middlesbrough before retiring from professional football permanently aged 28

He was the inaugural winner of the PFA young player of the year award, a trophy won since by the likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Paul Gascoigne and most recently Cristiano Ronaldo

Beattie collected only nine full caps playing for England