Jennings: Gomes as good as anybody

Tottenham goalkeeping great Pat Jennings is hopeful his old club can make it to this year’s FA Cup final, and has faith his latest successor between the sticks at White Hart Lane, Heurelho Gomes, can lead them there.

Jennings, who played 472 times for Spurs over a 13-year period, is confident Harry Redknapp’s side can reach Wembley with a victory over Fulham in Wednesday’s sixth round replay, but insists it won’t be easy.

Speaking exclusively to at an event arranged by the National Lottery in his native Northern Ireland to highlight the good causes aided by Lottery funding, Jennings said: “I’m really hopeful we’ll be able to get to the cup final this year.

“The Fulham game will be very tough; they’re playing brilliantly at the moment and have had some great results, particularly in Europe. Then there’s the possibility of Portsmouth in the semi final at Wembley, so we’re at a very exciting stage.”

Whatever happens against Fulham, Spurs will certainly face Portsmouth in the Premier League this coming Saturday, where they will be searching for a fifth straight league win in order to maintain their push for a fourth place finish.

“They’re still very much in the race for fourth place. The biggest threat at the moment looks likes coming from Manchester City, although Liverpool are still in the hunt too. There’s still a long way to go,” Jennings said.

“The great thing is that Spurs are in such a good position at this stage of the season with so much left to play for, which is a big improvement on this time last year.”

Spurs' modern day goalkeeper, Heurelho Gomes has been a key figure in his team’s continued success this season, keeping 13 clean sheets in all competitions, as the North Londoners continue to battle for both the FA Cup and a place in next season’s Champions League.

The Brazilian’s recent acclaim is a far cry from 18 months ago, when he was forced to shoulder much of the blame for Spurs’ poor start to the 2008/09 season.

However, Jennings believes that early criticism was undeserved.

“He came in from Holland with a fantastic reputation and did well in the first couple of matches, but as the team went from bad to worse, which was nothing to do with him, and with only two points from eight games on the board, everybody was suddenly looking at the new goalkeeper and assuming he was at fault.

"The real problem was that they missed Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov’s goals at the other end.

“Once Harry [Redknapp] came in and the team started scoring goals Gomes’ confidence picked up again. Since then he’s proven that he is as good as anybody in the Premier League.  He has fantastic ability, is a big, imposing figure, and is capable of making a save that will turn a match in his team’s favour.”

Pat Jennings was speaking at the Northern Ireland leg of The National Lottery’s Britain Has Balls Tour.

National Lottery players raise £25 million a week for projects all across the UK and over 330,000 Lottery grants have been given out to arts, sport, heritage, health, education, environment, charity and voluntary projects since the Lottery began in 1994.

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