Ex-Sheffield United captain delivers a plea to the Blades ahead of FA Cup semi-finals versus Manchester City | The Sun

ROBERT PAGE has told Sheffield United's stars to have no regrets as the FA Cup semi-finalists bid to go one better than the Class of 2003.

The Wales boss was the Blades captain for their 1-0 cup semi defeat to Arsene Wenger's Arsenal at Old Trafford 20 years ago.

Freddie Ljungberg struck the winner but the tie is remembered for David Seaman's self-proclaimed 'greatest save' after the Gunners keeper incredibly denied Paul Peschisolido an equaliser – and a potential cup upset.

Paul Heckingbottom's United – on the brink of a Premier League return – face a similarly daunting challenge when the Championship high-fliers take on Pep Guardiola's Manchester City treble chasers at Wembley tomorrow.

Page, 48, said: "This is a free hit for Sheffield United. Promotion has to be number one for me. 

“We're potentially a win away from getting promoted back to the Premier League which is incredible. So this is a free game. Go and show off.

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"Have a go and play against the best team in the world with the best players – irrespective of what Pep decides to do and what team he plays – enjoy the moment, roll your sleeves up and have the Blades behind them.

“Give it everything you have got and have no regrets."  

The Yorkshire club were also in the second tier back then – and managed to reach the last four of both domestic cup competitions under Neil Warnock only to lose to the Gunners and Liverpool in the League Cup.

But Seaman's iconic match-winning save when the then 40-year-old, in his 1,000th senior game, clawed Peschisolido's close range header off the line still haunts Page.

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The ex-centre-back told the Blades Heaven podcast: "Still to this day, I can't believe he kept the ball out. He has said it was his best save that he ever made in his career.

"What an occasion! Great memories. It was incredible when we had a police escort driving into Old Trafford and there were Blades fans either side of the bus.

"We'd been to the ground the day before because Neil didn't want us to be fazed on the day with the crowd. He wanted that out of our system and it was the right thing to do.

"Neil had spoken to Sir Alex Ferguson about the best way to play Arsenal, from a tactical point of view, and I respect him for that.

"He didn't look at Arsenal and just think, 'We're going to make up the numbers and defend for our lives.' He thought, 'No, we can have a go.'

“Arsenal were a top team and they were flying. It's similar to Manchester City.

"We punched above our weight but we had chances. Sol Campbell was marking me for set plays and I got the better of him in the first minutes of the game.

“The ball went to the back post and my header hit the side of the net. If I'd got the ball back across goal then it might have been a different outcome.

"We gave a great account of ourselves and went toe-to-toe with them. I hope the supporters were proud of that level of performance that day.

We're potentially a win away from getting promoted back to the Premier League which is incredible. So this is a free game. Go and show off.

“But if you aren't up for an FA Cup semi-final against top quality opposition then you're in the wrong industry."

Despite the heart-breaking defeat, Page did receive a prized souvenir from the Blades' big day out – Thierry Henry's shirt.

Page recalled: "I'd been away on international camp the month before and Eddie Niedzwiecki, who was a coach at Arsenal, was one of Mark Hughes' assistants for Wales.

“I knew we were playing Arsenal coming up so I said, 'If you can mention it to Thierry, I would love to have his jersey at the end of the game'.

"Fair play to Thierry, as soon as he came on to the pitch, he ran straight to me.

“As a centre-back, the last person you want to see coming off the bench with fresh legs for the last 20 minutes is Thierry. Trust me.

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“But as disgusted as I was to see him come on, he did cheer me up by saying, 'I've heard you want my jersey'.

"He was true to his word and as soon as the final whistle went he came straight over. It's framed and in the house."

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