Sheffield United: Dream come true for John Lundstram as he makes history - and makes hard work after leaving Everton for Oxford United all worthwhile
As the ball dropped invitingly into his path, and Bramall Lane held its collective breath, so many things must have rushed through the mind of John Lundstram that it's a wonder he managed to remember to strike the ball at all.
In a split-second, a glorious, emotional split-second, the stadium erupted and Lundstram made history; a scorer in all of the top four leagues in English football. Not many have achieved the feat... even less have saved the coup de grâce 'til last. The Premier League. Lundstram was up and running and, just over 40 minutes later, so were United.
It was fitting, Lundstram admitted in the mixed zone after victory over Crystal Palace, that the goal came at the end where his family sit. If the finish was decisive, after Luke Freeman's shot had been parried by Vicente Guaita, the celebration was less so; a grab on the badge, a kiss from the hands and an ungainly slide as the emotion took hold. The only moment all afternoon when he looked anything but in full control.
George Baldock, who ran Lundstram close for the man of the match award after tormenting Patrick van Aanholt at one end and, with the help of Chris Basham, completely nullifying Wilf Zaha at the other, was the first over to share the moment.
Again fitting; the two were teammates at Oxford United and Baldock, who signed a new United deal earlier this week, has also now played in the top four divisions, plus a spell in the Conference for good measure.
This was Lundstram's day, though. A highly-rated trainee at Everton, capped by England up to U20 level, the Scouser rejected a six-month contract extension at Goodison Park in favour of the 'real world'; trading the perfectly-manicured lawns of Everton's Finch Farm training base for League Two, and Oxford.
There he took over the captaincy from Jake Wright, following his move to United, and also played alongside Baldock. A £700,000 move to United brought him back into the Championship, before a fairytale promotion success gave him a shot at the biggest league of all.
"It's that old saying, but it's true isn't it? It's a dream come true," Lundstram, clutching his man-of-the-match award as he was dragged from interview to interview, told The Star.
"I've worked so hard since I was a kid to get here, so it's a really special one for me.
"I hadn't realised about my record of scoring in every league until someone mentioned it to me, and it does make me realise how far I've come.
"Stepping away from Everton and working my way back up. It's been a long, tough road but moments like this make you look back and think that everything was worth it.
"I don't think I'll ever forget this one, that's for sure. Hopefully it continues now."