Rob Lee may not have had had a squad number at one stage under Ruud Gullit, but the former skipper was still very much part of Newcastle United's first team.

While Kevin Keegan's Entertainers were a special side because of what they could do on the field, what set them apart was their bond off it, whether it was the dinners they enjoyed together at Uno's or the nights out they never forgot at Julie's nightclub.

Lee, who was such a key part of that, had been training with the reserves and the youth team during Gullit's final months at the club.

But the midfielder and his wife, Anna, remained lifelong friends for so many at the club - and being banished from the first team by Gullit was not going to change that.

The prospect of Lee eventually linking up with his pal, Alan Shearer, in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley was certainly not on the cards at that stage but things can change quickly in football.

Shearer had infamously been dropped for Gullit's final game in charge, the Tyne-Wear derby clash against Sunderland, and also faced a very uncertain future under the Dutchman.

Newcastle lost that game 2-1 and Gullit went as far as to say that the second-half introduction of Shearer and Duncan Ferguson from the bench was 'when the game slipped away from us'. With his side languishing in 19th place, the former Chelsea manager soon tendered his resignation.

Had Gullit stayed, what would prove to be a memorable period in the club's recent history under successor Sir Bobby Robson would have been very different, especially for Lee.

"Probably the only thing that saved me was the fact I signed a long-term contract with Kenny Dalglish the year before because otherwise I would have maybe looked to get away, but I loved playing for the club," Lee told ChronicleLive. "I just hoped his reign wouldn't last a long time and luckily enough I was right."

One of the first things Sir Bobby did was to gather together his blue-chip players, the experienced heads he could rely on, such as Lee, and build his side around them.

Results improved and by the time the FA Cup kicked off, in December, 1999, Newcastle were seven points clear of the relegation zone.

It would not necessarily prove a straightforward run back to Wembley. First there was a third-round tie against Spurs, which went to a replay, and then games against Sheffield United, Blackburn Rovers and giant-killers Tranmere. But, with Sir Bobby at the helm, the players believed.

"Bobby was so proud to lead the Geordie nation. It was back home, wasn't it? Full circle," his former assistant, Mick Wadsworth, told ChronicleLive.

"Every game had its moments. We were losing 1-0 against Spurs at White Hart Lane and Gary Speed, God bless him, scored a wonderful header late on to rescue the game and bring it back to St James' and we battered them at home. We were firing on all cylinders and had all our players available.

"I think the cup campaign was a release and playing with very little pressure in a sense. Going to Tranmere and winning there was no easy feat at that time with David Challinor's long throw and Wayne Allison up top causing havoc, but we did very well there and likewise at Blackburn. We won some tough games. "

And so Newcastle returned to Wembley - the scene of the Magpies' FA Cup final defeats against Arsenal and Manchester United in 1998 and 1999 respectively.

With the Twin Towers set to be demolished, as part of the old Wembley's redevelopment, the FA decided to host the semi-finals at the national stadium.

Newcastle were drawn with Chelsea and whoever won this tie was going to be favourites to win the trophy, itself, six weeks later against Aston Villa.

Naturally, there was plenty of excitement as thousands of Newcastle fans made the voyage down south for the third year in a row. It fell to Sir Bobby, with a flower pinned to his lapel, to get the tone right.

"I think everyone at the club thought we had a real feeling at Wembley - even though we lost the final in '99," Didier Domi told ChronicleLive. "It was always an inspiration to come back to Wembley and win and come back to 30 -35,000 black-and-white fans.

"It was a special moment because even though we had lost the previous year, the atmosphere was incredible in town and before the game when we arrived at the stadium car park. We could feel it again.

"Of course, it was a special game but Bobby was very good at management so he made sure it was the same spirit as always. He made sure it was the same atmosphere in the team and that there was not too much of an overreaction, which is difficult.

"What he didn't want is the team to have played the game beforehand in using so much energy in thinking about the game. He was making sure everything was smooth and going as usual like it was a normal game and not to put pressure on us because he knew when we came out of that dressing room, we would feel the energy of the fans.

"He knew not to talk too much, not to put too much pressure on us. Of course, the team talk before the game was not the same - it was more emotional - but he made sure he didn't add pressure to the team."

Newcastle set out to play on the foot foot and to make it a quicker game to try and turn Chelsea when they needed to and to not let Gianluca Vialli's side get into a passing rhythm.

Saying that, the Magpies were sent an early reminder of what Chelsea could do when George Weah had the ball in the net but he was rightly flagged offside by linesman Clive Penton.

If that was a warning, Newcastle did not heed it and the Magpies were soon behind courtesy of yet another early goal at Wembley.

Dennis Wise's quick free-kick caught the black-and-whites napping and a neat team move was finished by Poyet, who lifted the ball over Shay Given.

Newcastle did not panic - even after Duncan Ferguson went off with an injury just before half-time. Looking around, the players felt they would have chances to make amends. They felt this was a different team to the one which had previously struggled at Wembley.

The Magpies rallied in the second half - Ed de Goey was forced into three crucial saves to keep out Alan Shearer, Kieron Dyer and Nikos Dabizas as the Toon Army roared their side on. Chelsea were pushed back into their own half and Newcastle finally made the breakthrough after the hour mark.

Nolberto Solano played the ball down the right channel to Shearer, who skipped past Frank Leboeuf before swinging the ball into the box.

Rob Lee, whose job it was to sit in front of the back four in the latter stages of his career, gambled and got on the end of Shearer's delivery to send Newcastle fans into raptures with a fine header.

Solano jumped on Shearer's back as the skipper clenched his fists before the whole team rushed to Lee, who triumphantly held both arms aloft before being raised up by Dabizas. It was Lee's first goal in nearly two years.

"I thought, 'Sod it, I'm just going to get in the box,'" he told ChronicleLive. "Luckily enough, I remembered how to get into the box and how to head it!

"When they watch the celebrations back, my sons say, 'Why didn't you do the Moore?' They were probably right. I didn't know what to do, really.

"The other time I scored at Wembley was on my England debut and Ian Wright grabbed me and chucked me to the floor and I was deciding what to do this time.

"Nikos Dabizas grabbed me and it was surreal, really. You look back and think, 'I should have gone running across to the crowd and made a bit of it' but I don't think I ever did that when I celebrated. It was a great experience, a great feeling, but I would have preferred it if we had won the game."

The teams would be level for just five minutes. Just as Newcastle's players and supporters felt they had Chelsea on the rack, Vialli's side gave the Magpies a bloody nose.

Left-back Jon Harley had time to pick his spot to swing in a deep cross and, you guessed it, Poyet was there again to nod home.

Chelsea player Gus Poyet celebrates his winner against Newcastle United with Jon Harley

The former Sunderland boss believes Chelsea were at their best in those kind of 'now or never situations' - and that is why the Blues won cups rather than league titles during his time at Stamford Bridge.

"There was always something about Newcastle that they were so desperate to win a trophy. We knew that they needed to come back, they needed to have a reaction and really go for the game and they did it in a terrific way," he told ChronicleLive.

"There was not much difference at the end and the result showed you that. It was a moment of tension that one action was probably defining the game, one way or the other. Fortunately, it went for us.

"Until I went to Sunderland as a manager, I had a feeling that it was like a kind of love-hate relationship with Newcastle because the guys probably hated me a little bit because I always scored but they probably said, 'One day he might play for us'.

"But then I went to Sunderland and if it was a 50/50, 60/40 or even 70/30 percentage, I lost it all after managing Sunderland."

There was still time for de Goey to keep out Dyer's close-range effort deep into stoppage time before referee Dermot Gallagher blew his whistle for full-time.

Rob Lee collapsed to his haunches for a couple of seconds, blew his cheeks out, rubbed his eyes and stood up as Chelsea fans sang Que Sera.

The veteran and a number of his team-mates had experienced this feeling before. How Wembley is the best place to be when you win and the worst when you lose.

Sir Bobby admitted the disappointment tied with how he felt after England's penalty shootout defeat to West Germany at Italia 90 but took heart from how his players 'showed they are now an accomplished team' as Warren Barton recalls.

"Before it was, 'We had come all this way and we haven't done ourselves justice,'" he told ChronicleLive. "This one was more disappointment rather than embarrassment. I can't use a certain word but we were so close and had a good go.

Sir Bobby Robson makes his way off the field after Newcastle United's 2-1 defeat against Chelsea at Wembley

"I wouldn't say we were proud of what we did - you're not proud when you lose a game - but we had a go and we just felt disappointed. We just thought, 'Flaming Nora, we had a chance of winning this one' whereas before we were totally outplayed in both cup finals.

"We had no chance against a team that had won the treble in Manchester United and another one that was sensational at that time in Arsenal, who won the double. We just weren't good enough and this one we felt we were.

"We were just disappointed. We felt we had a chance of winning it and then winning the final."