Iwan Roberts: The long wait is over thanks to Norwich City hero Krul
I was the tender age of just 23 and in the middle of my second season, scoring 34 goals for my second club Huddersfield Town, when Norwich City last reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – I’m now 51, so it’s fair to say it’s been a long time coming!
The opponents back then on March 18 were Southampton and after a replay Norwich went through after extra time, with goals from very good friends of mine and former room-mates, Rob Newman and Daryl Sutch.
The lads went to north London on Wednesday full of confidence and optimism after that terrific win over Leicester City on Friday and were followed by a magnificent 9,000 fans at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, who were not to be let down.
As a player, that makes a big difference when you walk out of the tunnel at the start of the game and you see how many of your supporters have made the effort to come and support you.
The hero of the hour was Tim Krul, whose two penalty saves, from Troy Parrott and Gedson Fernandes, saw Norwich through 3-2 in the shoot-out. A word too for goalkeeping coach Ed Wootten, whose information he gave Tim about the Sours penalty takers proved invaluable.
Tim has been brilliant this season, even though there's only one goalkeeper in the Premier League who has conceded more goals than the Dutchman. In my opinion, he should win Norwich's Player of the Season award the way he's performed back on the big stage.
Tim's record of saving penalties, apart from penalty shoot-outs, isn't great, having saved just two of the 20 he's faced since the 2012-13 season - and they came this season when he thwarted Anthony Martial's and Marcus Rashford's spot-kicks back at the end of October. However, he clearly loves all the drama and tension that a shoot-out brings.
I remember back in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when Holland faced Costa Rica in the quarter-final. The game was 0-0 in the last few minutes of extra-time and heading to penalties when, remarkably, Louis Van Gaal made his last and probably his most important substitution of his career when he decided to take off his number one Jasper Cillessen and replace him with Tim. It was obviously pre-planned and, boy, didn't it work a treat for the Dutch? Some of Tim's antics on his goal-line pushed the fair play boundaries and you couldn't quite believe what you were seeing, but it worked as he saved both Bryan Ruiz's and Michael Umanan's spot kicks to send the Dutch through to the semi-final where lost 4-2 on penalties to Argentina - with Tim not coming off the bench this time as Van Gaal had already made his three substitutions.
Another hero on Wednesday night was Josip Drmic, whose 78th-minute equaliser sent the game into extra time and eventually gave Tim the opportunity to save those two penalties to win the tie for Norwich. That is two goals in his last two starts for Norwich now against Premier League defences, even though both goals have come in the FA Cup.
Josip has had to be patient for his opportunities this season because of the form of Teemu Pukki, but with Pukki now having not scored a goal from open play since he slotted one past Kasper Schmeichel at the King Power Stadium on December 14, he must now be knocking on the door for start in the Premier League.
Norwich are the only team in the Premier League not to have won back-to-back games this season. Yes, they've won their last two games, but one was the cup game.
They really need to somehow find a way of putting consecutive wins together in the league if they are to get out of the trouble they are in.
Hopefully that can come tomorrow afternoon as they travel up to face Chris Wilder's Sheffield United, who've had the most brilliant of seasons back in the top flight. The Blades are in fine form, losing just one of their last six league games - and that was to Manchester City in mid-January.
Only four clubs have scored fewer goals than the Blades, but they have the third meanest defence behind Liverpool and Manchester City. They have beaten Norwich in three of their last four appearances and the last time Norwich won at Bramall Lane was back in September 2017 when we had Wilder's 'bus gate'. I just hope and pray that tomorrow afternoon the traffic in and around Sheffield is kind to the Norwich coach driver - after all we don't want Chris Wilder throwing his toys out of his pram again do we?