STOKE CITY legend Mark Stein says that he can draw major similarities between the current crop of stars at the Britannia Stadium and the side that he spearheaded during the Club’s successful period in the early 1990s.
Stein was undoubtedly the focal point of Lou Macari’s team that etched itself into the history books at the Victoria Ground by securing a record 93-point haul en route to the Division Two Championship during the 1992/93 campaign.
The prolific hitman, who is firmly in the running to be named in the Club’s ‘Greatest XI as part of the 150th Anniversary celebrations, helped himself to an incredible 33 goals in all competitions during that promotion winning season.
He cites that as one of the biggest highlights of his career, along with his inaugural goal against local rivals Port Vale and his famous double against Manchester United, as the Potters stunned the
Premier League Champions in the League Cup.
However, he modestly acknowledges the vital contribution of a large number of ‘unsung heroes’ as a major benefactor to his goalscoring pedigree, and believes the togetherness and spirit within the dressing room back then bears a striking resemblance to the modern day Stoke City side.
“Lou put together a fantastic team back then, and in many ways, I guess that it was a team full of unsung heroes, kind of like the Stoke team now,” he told stokecityfc.com.
“We had players like John Butler, Vince Overson, Ian Cranson, Paul Ware, who has sadly just recently passed away, Graham Shaw, Steve Foley and Carl Beeston. They all made the success that we enjoyed possible.
“Those sort of players really epitomised everything that we were about – determined, hardworking lads – and you can see the exact same qualities right the way through the current Stoke team now.
“We had some really good footballers, and the togetherness within the dressing room was incredible too. You sense that under Tony Pulis it is exactly the same.
“It’s about everybody pulling together in the same way; that is what made us successful then, and those same qualities have made Stoke City successful again over the past five or six years, and for that you have to give the two managers, both Lou and Tony enormous credit.”
The 47-year-old, who recently left the role of Head of Medical at League One side Crawley Town to pursue a new career in education, will be one of 80 former professionals at the Britannia Stadium
on Sunday afternoon, and he admits to being excited at the prospect of mixing with other iconic Potters favourites.
“I’m really looking forward to Sunday, it’s going to be a great day and hopefully a good game of football too,” he smiled.
“For me personally, it is a great honour to be coming back to a Club that holds a real special place in my heart. It was a fantastic Club for me who gave me a great opportunity to come and play football.
“To be there on Sunday alongside some of the greatest players ever to have pulled on a Stoke City shirt really is incredible for me, and I’m sure it will be a very special day for us all.
“The day is for the supporters though, they make the Club. We the players are the lucky ones to go out in front of big, noisy crowd’s week in, week out and play football.
“When I was there, the fans were incredible, so loud and so supportive, and that is something that you will never forget. They have made the Club what it is today, and it will be nice to see them all again at the weekend.”
When challenged with the difficult question of highlighting his favourite Stoke City moment, the South African-born star inevitably cast his mind back to several different occasions, before settling on his final choice, the Wembley victory in 1992.
“It’s a tough question to answer, because there are so many,” he answered. “I remember playing in my first local derby against Port Vale and there were about 20,000 people packed into the Victoria Ground.
“Obviously, I got a penalty and scored it late on and we beat them 2-1. That was a great moment for me and I remember it very well, but I think if I was to be pushed then I would have to go for the Wembley victory.
“Having not won promotion that year, it was disappointing, but to then go to Wembley and beat Stockport in the Final of the Autoglass Trophy, having just lost to them in the Play-Offs, gave us the end of the season that we wanted.
“For me, to score the winning goal in that game was special. I can still picture the moment now, and then walking up the famous steps to lift the trophy with 45,000 Stokies celebrating with us.”
He added: “That victory gave us the platform to build upon in the following season, one in which we went on to win the league in fantastic fashion, embarking on a 25-game unbeaten run and securing promotion. That was an incredible achievement.”