St Mirren: Former striker Steven Thompson on Jim Goodwin & 2013 cup glory

By Martin WattBBC Scotland
St Mirren's 2013 League Cup win was their first major trophy in 26 years
St Mirren's 2013 League Cup win was their first major trophy in 26 years
Scottish League Cup semi-final: Livingston v St Mirren
Venue: Hampden Park, Glasgow Date: Sunday, 24 January Time: 16:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland and follow live text updates on the BBC Sport website and app

Steven Thompson collected four trophies with Rangers, triumphed in world football's richest game to reach the Premier League with Burnley, and lived the dream in a Scotland shirt.

But nothing can top the day he lifted the Scottish League Cup with St Mirren.

The memories are indelibly etched in his mind. The pre-match anxiety over letting down his home town, the utter elation of scoring in the final win over Hearts, the days of celebrations on the packed streets of Paisley.

Now his boyhood club stand two wins from emulating that feat and claiming just a fifth major honour in their 144-year history. The captain of the Hampden glory day eight years ago, Jim Goodwin, has matured into the manager attempting to steer St Mirren past in-form Livingston in Sunday's semi-final.

Goodwin was a midfielder who came with a stigma for recklessness, finishing his 181-game St Mirren playing career with as many red cards - four - as goals, and 65 yellows.

The sometimes flailing elbows belied an astute tactical brain, though, to complement the leadership qualities that were there in abundance.

"Jim had a bit of a nasty reputation on the pitch and he was a guy you wanted on your team because he was the kind of player opponents hate," says Thompson.

"He had a wee switch where if someone upset him he would lose his temper. But off the pitch he didn't have that same aggression. He was quite gentle-mannered and considerate.

"He was always a deep thinker. He spent a lot of time studying the game and you just knew he was going to be a coach. Jim and I did our A licence together. You could tell even then when we were just learning the basics, he had a real idea of what he wanted.

"It'll be very few times Jim loses the rag as a manager, which was different to what he was like as a player. I think he's a manager that players like to play for."

Having stunned Rangers 3-2 in the last eight, leading St Mirren to silverware would further enhance 39-year-old Goodwin's standing as one of Scottish football's most impressive young coaches.

The Irishman cut his teeth on the St Mirren staff under Tommy Craig before striking out on his own at Alloa Athletic, leading the club to promotion and keeping them in the Championship the following season to earn a return to Paisley in June 2019.

"I think he'll go on to bigger things," adds Thompson. "He's at a great club, but you always want to test yourself at a higher level. Winning the cup would give him a better opportunity to do that.

"Jim is already a St Mirren legend, so this is a chance to really cement his name. Having won the cup as captain, if he was to do it again as manager it would be statue outside the stadium material."

Slaying Celtic was St Mirren's 'best ever performance'

Steven Thompson scored the decisive goal as St Mirren stunned Celtic in the semi-final
Steven Thompson scored the decisive goal as St Mirren stunned Celtic in the semi-final

Back in 2013, St Mirren rose to the occasion in a humdinger of a Hampden semi-final. They were up against a Celtic side who had beaten Barcelona three months previously and would go on to complete the domestic double.

Thompson scored what proved to be the winner as St Mirren progressed 3-2 to set up a showdown with Hearts.

"Just like when Jim's team faced Rangers in the quarters this season, no one gave us a hope against Celtic," the former striker says. "But we put in a performance as good as I've ever seen from a St Mirren team. Wee John McGinn was in there bashing Victor Wanyama about. It all came together."

Then came the final, which Thompson - 34 at the time - knew was his last chance of silverware. The pressure gnawed away at him on the morning of the showpiece.

That anxiety only heightened in a sluggish start as Danny Lennon's team seemed gripped by stage-fright.

"It was a mixture of nerves and responsibility," Thompson says. "It's like a burden where you don't want to let anybody down. You know it means so much to the supporters.

"We got an absolute chasing in the first half hour. Hearts had scored one and I reckon if they'd got a second we'd have lost. But thankfully they missed a couple of big opportunities and we scored just before and after half-time through Esmael Goncalves and myself."

There was still a late scare to come as Hearts pulled it back to 3-2 with five minutes, but St Mirren clung on for their first major trophy in more than a quarter of a century.

"I was fortunate over my career to have a lot of unbelievable moments," adds Thompson. "But the St Mirren one, because I'd been brought up as a fan - the 1987 Scottish Cup final was the first game I ever went to - it held a lot of emotional ties for me. So I'd put it right up there as the one that stands out."

Until now, St Mirren hadn't made it beyond the quarter-finals of either domestic cup since their 2013 success. Now, with the Old Firm both out, the trophy tantalisingly beckons.

"You don't get these chances often, certainly not in a St Mirren jersey, to reach a final and Jim's players have to grasp it," Thompson says.

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