After missing out in the EFL Final, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg has sights set on a winning return to Wembley with Saints.
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg was just 18 when he won his first trophy as a professional.
Already the youngest player ever at the time to play for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, the Dane delivered a performance from the right side of midfield that belied his tender years.
His 102 minutes in the spotlight at Berlin’s Olympiastadion were rewarded with a DFB Pokal winners' medal. Højbjerg “will remember the day for all of (his) career” but now it is time for him to write a new story and rewrite the ending of another more recent one.
“Winning the German Cup was a great experience and I think that was me showing myself on a big stage,” he said from the more humble surroundings of the Academy dressing room in Staplewood this week.
"It was a big step of showing that I can handle the pressure and that I had the right mentality. It was four years ago when I was 18 and now I need to write a new story. Why shouldn’t it be with Southampton in the FA Cup?”
Three years on, he featured in all five matches of his new team’s march past Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Arsenal and Liverpool to another final and another chance to perform on the big stage.
The midfielder was an unused substitute against Manchester United in the EFL Cup final at Wembley and – like all those of a red and white persuasion – is hungry to earn a second shot in as many seasons at domestic silverware.
Disappointment last February has bred a desire to right the wrongs and write a new story in the FA Cup for both himself and Southampton at the national stadium.
“Everyone around the world knows what the FA Cup is about. It has its own story and it is a different game from the Premier League. I remember watching a couple of finals as a kid, Gerrard’s late goal and then penalties, Drogba in overtime against United.
pierre emile højbjergwembley is the church of football. it is amazing and has its own story. we want to make our own history there for southampton.
Saints’ cup story at the new Wembley has been one of both new beginnings in the EFL Trophy and undeserved heartbreak in last season’s showpiece event and the significance of Sunday’s semi-final is not lost on Pierre.
“At that point at the end, with the result it was not enjoyable but the experience and pressure of playing the final and knowing we were one game away from the title really is something special and we know we could be close to that again.
"The result last year didn’t match the performance. The whole atmosphere around the final was really amazing. For me, it would be so huge to play a part. It would be a big mark in my life and career.
"The FA Cup has its own story and hopefully it will have a beautiful end."