Amond will take Le­ices­ter in his stride af­ter fac­ing up to Fal­cao and Ron­aldo

New­port striker scored in draw against Spurs and is plot­ting an­other FA Cup shock, writes Alex By­wa­ter

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Fa Cup -

When New­port County and Le­ices­ter City walk out for to­day’s FA Cup third-round tie, one man can count Cris­tiano Ron­aldo and Radamel Fal­cao as past op­po­nents. In striker Padraig Amond, New­port boast some­one who has more high­pro­file games on his CV than the av­er­age League Two foot­baller.

The 30-year-old Irishman faced Ron­aldo on his Real Madrid de­but when with Sham­rock Rovers in 2009 and, dur­ing a stint in Por­tu­gal, went head-to-head with Porto’s Fal­cao, James Ro­driguez and Hulk.

Amond loves the big oc­ca­sion. Last sea­son, his goal nearly helped New­port to a fa­mous FA Cup win over Tot­ten­ham, but was enough to earn them a lu­cra­tive re­play at Wem­b­ley. Now Le­ices­ter are in his sights.

Amond said: “There prob­a­bly aren’t many League Two play­ers who have played against some of the guys I have, but in any one-off game you have noth­ing to lose. There was a big hul­la­baloo when I played against Real. It was Ron­aldo’s de­but. We played with the foot­balls Madrid use in the Span­ish league, not the nor­mal Ir­ish ones. Our cap­tain went up for the coin toss and was told whichever way it fell, Madrid could pick ends.

“Karim Ben­zema scored in the 87th minute and they beat us 1-0. It was an un­be­liev­able ex­pe­ri­ence and it was the same when I played Porto with Pa­cos de Fer­reira. I was 22 at the time and I went into it a bit blind, but we drew 3-3 even though they had Fal­cao, Hulk and James. The ex­pe­ri­ences I’ve had in big games still help me and they will do so again this weekend.”

At New­port’s Rod­ney Pa­rade ground this week, Amond re­calls a ca­reer that has taken him to nine clubs and four coun­tries. South Wales is now his home. His most fa­mous con­tri­bu­tion to New­port was his goal against Tot­ten­ham last Jan­uary. Only Harry Kane’s lev­eller de­nied County the win.

Amond said: “I never get sick talk­ing about that goal. I love it and can re­mem­ber the whole thing. Rob­bie Will­mott crossed it in, Kieran Trip­pier jumped in front of me and as soon as it hit my head, I knew it was in. Ev­ery­thing just slowed down. It’s so hard to ex­plain.

“At half-time, the cam­eras were run­ning af­ter me, but when I got into the chang­ing room I went to the toi­let and just had a lit­tle smile to my­self. I wanted to en­joy the mo­ment, we were 1-0 up against Tot­ten­ham. If we’d held on it would prob­a­bly have been up there with the big­gest FA Cup shocks of all time. It was an un­be­liev­able mo­ment and hope­fully I can have an­other one against Le­ices­ter.”

New­port fell away in League Two over Christ­mas af­ter a bright start and will face Le­ices­ter on the back of four de­feats in their past five games. Still, Amond has full be­lief in his side and man­ager Michael Flynn, who will be backed by a rau­cous, sold-out home crowd.

“There is no pres­sure on us. We’re the only ones who think we can get a re­sult, but I hope Le­ices­ter come and play a full-strength side,” said Amond, who has 14 goals this sea­son.

“I want to test my­self against the best. The Le­ices­ter story is the best one in foot­ball – I don’t think it will ever be beaten. For them to win the Pre­mier League was just re­mark­able.

“They’ve still got world-class play­ers and now we get to play against them, which is fan­tas­tic.”

Amond, who this week took up the of­fer of a one-year con­tract ex­ten­sion at New­port, said: “We have 12 lads out of con­tract in the sum­mer and FA Cup runs are big for a club like us as they bring money in. Last year it helped us to re-sign play­ers and that’s im­por­tant. Hope­fully the same can hap­pen again.

“We aren’t on £60,000-a-week like some of the Le­ices­ter lads. No one wants to be in the si­t­u­a­tion where you don’t know if you’re go­ing to be re­leased or not. Foot­ball is a self­ish game.”

Fa­mous goal: Padraig Amond (left) cel­e­brates scor­ing against Tot­ten­ham last sea­son

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