Saturday’s FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium will feature the kind of pageantry expected from the oldest association football tournament in the world as more than 80,000 fans pack the famous venue for a tilt between Manchester City and Wigan Athletic.
But it will also feature something rare in the knockout tournament’s long history: a player walking through the tunnel who started his career at a community college in Arizona.
Roger Espinoza, a Honduran international who started his college career at Yavapai College in Yavapai County, Arizona, will suit up for Wigan Athletic in the match on Saturday.
Espinoza, who moved to Denver, Colorado, when he was 12 years old and later became a U.S. citizen, played two years of college soccer for the Roughriders from 2005-06, helping them compile a 46-2-3 record before transferring to the Ohio State University.
He was inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame, along with Dane Richards, in 2011. During his one season at Ohio State, he led the Buckeyes to the College Cup Final, scoring a goal in their 2-1 loss to Wake Forest.
The defensive midfielder was drafted by the Wizards and played with Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer through last season when his play for the U.S. Open Cup winners attracted suitors abroad and an eventual transfer to Wigan Athletic.
He’s made three starts during the Latics surprise FA Cup run, most recently in their 4-1 win over Huddersfield Town on Feb. 17.