Former Athletic man Claisse handed huge FA Cup honour
Former Scarborough Athletic midfielder Tom Claisse will be the first player to lift the FA Cup on Saturday after the final between Manchester United and Chelsea.
The 31-year-old has been awarded the honour of carrying the silverware up the famous Wembley steps before it is presented to the winning captain by Prince William.
This has all come about after another top season for Claisse representing the RAF FA football team in what is a commemorative year for that branch of the armed forces.
He said: “Last week I won the RAF team’s player of the year and players’ player awards and because of that I have been asked to carry the FA Cup up the steps to Prince William, who will take over from there.
“The opportunity is all down to the RAF FA because we are celebrating a commemorative year - RAF 100.
“It is massive really for me, it is a big year and a big honour, I can’t wait.”
It won’t just be the 90,000 fans in Wembley Stadium who will watch Claisse’s ascent with the FA Cup, there will be around half a billion viewers worldwide tuning into the event.
“We are having a rehearsal on the morning so I can get my timings right, it is just like a parade really,” he added.
“I’m a bit nervous at the moment because it would be a lot of people to watch you trip up the steps.
“It will be a proud moment for me because it will give me the opportunity to put the RAF in a good light.
“For a lad growing up in not the best part of Leeds to do something like is is amazing.
“Hopefully the young kids watching will see me as a role model for what they can become in the Armed Forces.”
There is still plenty of RAF football ahead for Claisse, who has also turned out for Pickering Town, Whitby Town, Tadcaster Albion and Farsley Celtic in his career.
He said: “It has been another great season for us, I became the first RAF captain to lift the Kentish Cup for the third time in a row.
“There is plenty coming up as well, going to Germany next month to play in Rostock for the UK Armed Forces, while the RAF also have the usual game against Bristol City.
“I just can’t wait for Saturday though because it will be an amazing experience and one I’ll remember forever.”
Claisse also remembers his time at Boro fondly and wishes the club the best for the future.
“I loved it at Scarborough, it was one of my favourite clubs, the fans were great,” he said.
“I can remember Stu and Jackie Welsh sending me a box of Scarborough stuff when I was out in Afghanistan, that’s how great they were.
“I am pleased to see how well they are doing now, they were always going to do well once they came back to Scarborough.”