Sunday’s Legends United match at The Valley provided goalkeeper Sasa Ilic with the perfect excuse to reminisce about his iconic penalty save against Sunderland at Wembley Stadium.
It is almost 20 years since the stopper plunged down to his left to keep out Michael Gray’s spot-kick and secure Charlton’s place in the Premier League after the two sides had contested a thrilling 4-4 draw.
Clive Mendonca, also in attendance on Sunday, of course bagged a stunning hat-trick in that Wembley showpiece and Ilic says that Sunday gave him and his former teammates an ideal opportunity to reflect on their incredible achievements.
“Looking back, it happened so quickly,” said Ilic, who only joined Charlton midway through the 1997/98 season. “When I came to Charlton, I literally just came and knocked on the club’s door.
“I fell into a team where all the different pieces of the puzzle just came together.
“Even that day at Wembley just seemed quite normal, coming into it having played nine games without conceding a goal. It just felt like we were going to come and play any other game.
“It is only in hindsight that you realise the importance of the game and what we achieved on that day.
“Have I achieved anything better than that? I don’t think so and I don’t think many players will be able to top winning a play-off final by saving a penalty.”
All proceeds from Legends United raised funds for Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s work in the heart of the community. You can donate online by visiting cact.org.uk/donate.
To find out more about CACT’s work improving education and employment, improving health and reducing crime in communities across South East London and Kent, please visit cact.org.uk/impact.