Penalty hero Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe has revealed how he stood up to the pressure as opposition players tried to unsettle him in the moments before he scored on his Rotherham United home debut.
The Belgian international faced a three-minute wait last Saturday between Cardiff City goalkeeper David Marshall being sent off and substitute shot-stopper Simon Moore coming on until he could take the spot-kick.
He duly hit the back of the net in front of the AESSEAL New York Stadium kop to set the Millers on their way to a 2-1 victory and their first win of the Championship campaign.
“It took ages before I could take the penalty,” Odjidja-Ofoe said. ”In that situation you have to stay calm, but even though you try to stay calm the tension rises a little bit because it’s taking so much time.
“The opposition try to talk to you and get into your mind. They tried to talk to me so I just tried to walk away and not listen to what they had to say.”
The 26-year-old said he made a snap decision to assume responsibility after striker Matt Derbyshire, who had missed from the spot in the previous home game, against Fulham, had been kicked by Marshall in the 41st minute.
“We didn’t decide anything before the game. In the team we have a lot of good penalty-takers but maybe some days somebody feels better about taking one than somebody else,” he said
“While everyone had gone to have a drink and there was a discussion when Cardiff’s other goalkeeper was getting ready, I felt good and the ball was there so I said to myself ‘let’s take it’.
“I felt confident in the game so I thought I could do it, and I did.”
The loan midfielder, who was voted man of the match against the Bluebirds, is no stranger to spot-kick duties after his time with Hamburg and Bruges.
“I’ve taken a lot of penalties for my previous teams,” he said. “I’ve scored, but not all of them!
“But I felt good against Cardiff. I can take a penalty and I think it went in well. It was good for the mentality of the team because after that we felt strong.”
And he paid triubute to the Millers fans who stuck by their team as they dominated the second half and finally won the match in the last few seconds when Cardiff defender Matthew Connolly put through his own goal.
“You could see in the second half that every player was going for the win,” he said. “We felt the confidence also of the people in the stands. They were behind us all game and didn’t panic, and that was very important.”