Belfast Telegraph

Stuart Elliott is hoping the Tigers can roar

By Steven Beacom

Former Northern Ireland star Stuart Elliott believes his old club Hull City can create a shock against Arsenal in tonight's FA Cup final at Wembley.

The Gunners are odds on to claim their first trophy since 2005 with Hull entering the decider as huge underdogs, but Elliott says that just about anything in football is possible and uses Northern Ireland's famous victory over England at Windsor Park as the perfect illustration.

Now an evangelical minister, 35-year-old Elliott became a big favourite at Hull having moved there from Motherwell in 2002.

He scored goals galore in a six- year spell, hitting 27 in the season the Tigers clinched promotion to the Championship. He maintains close links with the city and would love to see the club celebrate their first FA Cup final with a victory.

"I was in the team that helped Hull into the Championship. To get to that level was magnificent for all the fans and now to see them in the Premier League and also reaching the FA Cup final is great," said Elliott.

"It really is amazing to see what Hull are doing now and to have played a small part in what the club has achieved makes me feel very proud.

"When I was at Hull it was probably the best time in my career.

"I'm so pleased for the supporters, who were always good to me, and even to this day keep in touch with messages through Twitter or Facebook, which is really nice.

"They will love going to Wembley and hopefully the team can win for them.

"I know Arsenal are big favourites and with the quality players they have you would expect that, but Hull have some good players too and will be really up for it.

"I believe Hull could win. In football anything can happen.

"Just look at the night almost 10 years ago when England came to Belfast and were supposed to beat Northern Ireland easily.

"I was in the Northern Ireland team that night when David Healy scored the winner. So shocks can happen in big games. Look at last year in the FA Cup final when Wigan beat Manchester City.

"It would be fantastic if Hull could pull off another surprise."

However, the Tigers go into the final on the back of five successive league games without a win. In addition, they are shorn of cup-tied frontmen Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long, and have doubts over a number of players including another striker in Sone Aluko and defender Paul McShane.

But goalkeeper Allan McGregor has staged a successful comeback from kidney damage and Robbie Brady is also pushing for a surprise recall after his groin operation.

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