Remembering when Sheffield United made April Fools of city rivals Wednesday at Hillsborough, on this day in 2001

It was a day that cemented Carl Asaba's place in Bramall Lane folklore - and ended up costing him a few thousand pounds a decade later.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 6:00 pm
Carl Asaba of Sheffield United is congratulated by Gus Uhlenbeek after scoring the second goal against Wednesday: Ross Kinnaird/ALLSPORT

April Fool's Day 2001, Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield Wednesday 1 Sheffield United 2.

Asaba made a goal for Laurent D'Jaffo and later scored the winner, a glancing header in front of a jubilant Leppings Lane end to settle the 100th league Steel City Derby in United's favour.

It was only the striker's third game in a Blades shirt, and his second goal. But to this day it remains one of the club's most iconic.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"I'd played there three or four weeks before for Gillingham and I scored," Asaba remembered, speaking on Alan Biggs' Talking Sheffield show.

"And we were all in awe as it's a massive ground. So I was a little apprehensive in the days leading up to it, I'd had Blades fans coming up to me telling me how big a game it was, and I was nervous.

"We were getting changed and you could hear the roof bouncing above us because of the atmosphere and it was just the greatest day. Our fans were incredible and I remember Carlton Palmer doing a darts sign to Darren Bullock, calling him a pub darts player on the pitch! I just couldn't believe some of the things going on and it was just a great, great experience."

Asaba made the first for D'Jaffo when he dominated Des Walker in the air to lay the ball off for his French strike partner, and then doubled United's lead with a deft header from a right-wing cross that seemed to take forever before it hit the back of the Wednesday net, despite Kevin Pressman's best efforts to reach it.

"I can't head the ball," Asaba laughed.

"I'm the only footballer who'll never get concussion issues from heading the ball repetitively because I was terrible at it. Once, it worked and thankfully Kevin Pressman wasn't the most agile or mobile 'keeper at the time and he couldn't scamper across to stop it. Just a wonderful, wonderful day."

Asked about Neil Warnock, the boyhood Blade who was in charge of United that day at Hillsborough, Asaba revealed: "His nose was flared from Monday until kick-off, he was a bundle of tension but when you got into the dressing room, he was smiling because he knew how lucky we were and wanted us to understand that this is something that would live with us forever.

"I played at Wembley two or three times before but I'd never experienced such a cauldron of an atmosphere, and that's why you play football - because you might get into that sort of fixture.

"Afterwards, I was cuddling the gaffer and thanking him for signing me, so I got to play in a game like that, and Simon Tracey, who's cunning and wise, pulled me and asked for my shirt. In the heat I gave it to him, and then I thought 'What have I done?' I had to buy it back 10 years ago, for £3,000!"

Money well spent, Blades fans would argue, for memories of a lifetime.