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Reguero hopes to help fly the flag for Highland side as they seek to make history

Cup competitions hold memories for every player.

Antonio Reguero has grown to become an influential figure for Inverness
Antonio Reguero has grown to become an influential figure for Inverness

This week Terry Butcher invited his Inverness Caledonian Thistle squad to share theirs; a move designed to get them in the spirit ahead of a Scottish Communities League Cup semi-final with Hearts tomorrow, while also ensuring they are reminded of how it will feel if they allow their chance to slip through their fingers at Easter Road.

Among the anecdotes were recollections of Johnstone's Paint Trophy heartbreak and the odd day spent basking in the shimmering glow of the FA Cup; Butcher and Richie Foran, the Inverness captain, shared the story of three major semi-finals at Motherwell; assistant Maurice Malpas could tell of the day he lifted the Scottish Cup with Dundee United and of a UEFA Cup final; striker Billy McKay must have thought he had topped even that when he recounted a goal that sank Liverpool for Northampton Town.

Then there was Antonio Reguero. The Spanish goalkeeper had hung back on this communal stroll down memory lane but he swaggered on to centre stage as he recalled the glitz and glamour of a Champions League night at the Bernabeu; the floodlights, the booming rendition of the anthem, the anticipation of a Madrid support that demanded success. Nothing less.

It did not seem to matter that Reguero had only been one of the youngsters rippling the Champions League emblem in the middle of the pitch. "It is a good memory. I can say I have been on the pitch for Real Madrid in the Champions League," said the goalkeeper, a product of the Madrid youth system. "During that campaign, I remember the Dortmund game and Bayern Munich. All of the under-16s had to go on the pitch at the Bernabeu. That season, Real went on to win the Champions League for the first time in 32 years against Juventus in Amsterdam.

"Sadly, I wasn't there when they won the Champions League again in Scotland at Hampden Park, just watching on telly. I was playing at that time in Real Madrid C and only the B team travelled with the first team to Glasgow. It was a real pity. I missed a great occasion at Hampden, so it is strange, with the way it has worked, that I could have the chance to go there now."

Reguero, who has displaced Ryan Esson in the Inverness goal this season, will not be fazed by the semi-final at Easter Road tomorrow. His own career has been spent traversing Spanish football – the goalkeeper featuring for seven clubs, including Villarreal and Alicante, prior to decamping to the Scottish Highlands.

Crowds of 10,000 to 20,000 became the norm, with a Spanish Cup quarter-final match against Real Zaragoza a particular highlight. "I remember Alicante played Zaragoza four or five years ago and it was a really big deal. The game went right to penalties," he said. "Their goalkeeper, Cesar, saved three penalties and they won, but it was a good experience.

"The cup brings a whole different atmosphere and level of excitement for the players and supporters. Hopefully, this time, I can get right the way to the final. It is the chance of history for the club and the players. I'm excited."

The Spaniard was gripped by anticipation and that seemed in marked contrast to the mood of John McGlynn yesterday. The Hearts manager will only need to lead his side across the city for the semi-final but he became preoccupied with matters closer to home, admitting that he has often put football ahead of his family.

A more modest career convinced McGlynn that he would have to work twice as hard to build a reputation as a coach, his time as a player only leading him to the relative heights of the youth system at Bolton and a full team at Berwick Rangers. A chance to lead Hearts to a major final will offer some reward but it has come at a personal cost.

"The football was always kind of the priority, unfortunately," said McGlynn, who could have young Liverpool striker Michael Ngoo in his squad if the paperwork is completed. "So everything revolved around having to get away from work in time for the football. At that time [as a youth coach] at Hearts, we were sometimes based at Saughton but quite often went through to Scotstoun to train.

"There were many Tuesday and Thursday nights spent travelling through to Scotstoun. For many years, that was the case. I was driving the bus, putting the kit in myself, everything.

"The family thing wasn't great. My daughter Mandy is now 27 and I would have to say that I didn't spend enough time with her. My football was Saturdays, Sundays; at least two nights during the week, maybe more. I'm not proud about that because I was just caught up in what I wanted to do and gave everything to it."

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