Cardiff is not lucky for Roberts
PUBLISHED: 13:45 10 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:53 03 March 2010
SOCCER: Norwich striker Iwan Roberts does not believe fortune favours his side in the Division One play-off on Sunday — even if his team will occupy the 'lucky' north dressing room.
Norwich striker Iwan Roberts does not believe fortune favours his side in the Division One play-off on Sunday — even if his team will occupy the 'lucky' north dressing room.
The last 11 major finals played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff have all been won by teams in the north dressing room and, after the Second Division play-off tomorrow, Norwich will be the 13th team to be given the honour.
For 33-year-old Roberts, the north dressing room is a familiar haunt as a member of the Welsh national team but it has failed to bring him much luck – Wales having won only one of their last seven games in Cardiff.
And Roberts admitted the stadium could be a daunting place for many of the Norwich squad who have never been there before.
He said: "I've been there six or seven times with Wales and it's not been very lucky for us.
"I think the lads will be surprised when they get there – I don't think they realise how great a stadium it is.
"But going to Wolves for the semi-final was daunting too and you won't get more hostile than that.
"The lads learned a great deal about themselves there and that will stand them in good stead."
Manager Nigel Worthington has toned down training in an effort to bring his players back down to earth following their semi-final victory over Wolves, fearing burn-out.
He said: "It's most important we don't peak too early because there's a lot of energy around the place at the moment.
"There's a lot of emotion swimming around since we beat Wolves but hopefully the petrol tank will be full come Sunday.
"We've achieved a lot and we're probably 12 or 18 months ahead of ourselves. But we're only 90 minutes away from where we want to be and we want to finish the job.'
For Birmingham's Nico Vaesen the wheel has turned almost full circle in the last 12 months.
The Belgian goalkeeper could have been facing up to another season in the Second Division with Huddersfield but instead he is just one game away from a place in the FA Barclaycard Premiership.
Having been relegated on the final day of last season, coincidentally losing to Birmingham, he was transferred to St Andrews a few weeks later.
"It was a very sad day when they were relegated. We needed just one point to save ourselves and didn't manage it,' he said.
"I was sad to leave but as a footballer you have to look after yourself and your family. Birmingham was a great opportunity and a great club to join.
"For me it will be a great day in Cardiff. My family will be there, and I would be thrilled to be part of a team that would make the Premiership."