Gary Stevens v Ipswich
(2nd February 1980, Division One, Portman Road)
Nicknamed Grease, Gary Stevens was fresh-faced 17 year old from Hillingdon who had been on the books of Ipswich as a schoolboy. However, with stiff competition from Terry Butcher, Russell Osman and George Burley, Gary did not make the grade at Ipswich and joined Brighton as an apprentice in August 1978.
After hugely impressive pre-season performances, the classy teenage defender made his debut against Ipswich in a 2-0 victory for the Seagulls in September 1979. But it was in the return fixture in February where he really made his mark.
Town were 1-0 up in stoppage time when Brian Horton clipped a short ball to John Gregory, who teed it up on the edge of the penalty area. Having come on for Gerry Ryan 20 minutes from the end, Stevens seized his moment, hitting a right-foot shot that screwed away from the despairing Paul Cooper.
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Why this goal mattered
The goal saved Albion from a third successive defeat in Division One. It briefly halted Ipswich’s surge, which was to take them to third place by the end of 1979/80. It also highlighted the all-round talent of Stevens, who was selected by Bobby Robson for England’s World Cup squad for Mexico ’86.
Gary went on to score in the 1983 FA Cup Final. His eventful career with Brighton, Tottenham, Portsmouth and England was cut short by a brutal tackle in a match against Wimbledon. Those growing up in the 1980s may remember Stevens on ITV’s children’s show, Wide Awake Club, as he told viewers about his road to recovery. Those Saturday morning TV appearances set Gary in good stead for a career in the media, and he has since worked for SkySports and TalkSport. Gary is currently assistant coach at Sligo Rangers.
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