More MS news articles for May 2003
May 28 2003
Alan Mccabe Exclusive
Dundee will carry the hopes and dreams of a 12th man on to the field for their Scottish Cup showdown with Rangers.
Javier Artero lives in Madrid and won't make it to Hampden for their big day. But he will feature prominently in the thoughts of the men charged with ending the club's 93- year wait to lift the famous trophy.
Artero's career was cruelly cut short by illness at the start of the season. He was just 27.
The Spaniard was forced to hang up his boots in August - a year after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
At the time he admitted the physical and mental demands of his condition meant he couldn't compete properly at the highest level.
His retirement was a huge loss to Dundee and Jim Duffy, who recognised the midfielder's bravery and charisma within days of taking over from Ivano Bonetti.
The news devastated the dressing room. Players lined up to pay tribute to their fallen comrade and vowed to bring success to the club in his honour.
On Saturday, nine months after Artero bowed out, his former colleagues will get the chance to do just that.
Artero, however, insists they have already done him proud.
The former Real Madrid ace is still employed by the club as a European scout and is in regular contact with players and officials at Dens Park.
He remains close friends with Argentine winger Beto Carranza, who wore Artero's No.18 shirt under his own during every game the Spaniard missed when he was first sidelined by his illness. Artero has been thrilled by their form since the winter break and believes they can make history at Hampden on Saturday.
He said: "Dundee will have a great chance in the final. Everyone at the club has been looking for a game like this for a very long time.
"I speak to guys like Beto Carranza and Barry Smith regularly and I still feel really close to people there.
"I know the players are enjoying the experience of being in a final and are looking forward to the day.
"They have done so well this season and what they have already achieved has been well deserved.
"I can't say strongly enough how happy I am for the players, the manager and all the other staff I came to know so well from my time in Dundee.
"I was with them at the start of the season and trained or played with nearly all the players.
"It all still feels very close to me because I was involved in the build- up to the season.
"I didn't get to play in a cup final for Dundee but it is still my team and my friends who will be at Hampden. I cannot play but I am so happy they have this chance."
Artero experienced victories over Rangers and Celtic during his time with Dundee and believes Duffy's team are capable of causing an upset in Glasgow.
He said: "One year we beat Rangers at Ibrox and Celtic at Celtic Park. The players were totally committed in these games which is the way to beat these kind of teams.
"For me Dundee's key man will be Giorgi Nemsadze because he has so much talent and is a very special player. He has it in him to play great football and I hope that happens in the final."
Artero still enjoys a special bond with Dundee fans who named him their Personality of the Year.
He was recently given a testimonial dinner in the City of Discovery and would have loved to sit among the supporters on Saturday.
He said: "I am not able to be at Hampden but the relationship I had with the Dundee fans and the way they have treated me is one of the most special things about my time in Scotland.
"There could be up to 20,000 of them coming together for the game and that, for me, will be a great sight and hopefully for them a great occasion.
"I'm still working very closely with the club and looking for players. The manager has been over to Spain and I will continue to help him in any way I can."
Artero's final thoughts, however, are reserved for his former team-mates. He said: "People always say the most important thing for the players is to enjoy the game.
"I really believe that because anything can happen in football and in life and there is no guarantee they will get another chance to experience something like this.
"I wish the boys all the best but I'm sure they know that. I know they
are going to be just fine."
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