Jarrod Bowen never thought he would win an European trophy but on Wednesday night, he did not just win it, he scored the winning goal in a European final.
Bowen’s last-minute strike secured a dramatic 2-1 victory for West Ham over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final and ended their 43-year wait for a trophy.
The 26-year-old winger raced on to Lucas Paqueta’s through-ball and slotted home to spark wild celebrations on the pitch, the touchline and in the stands.
“I can’t sum it up, it’s the best feeling I’ve had in my career,” said Bowen.
“When I went through I had a lot of time and it was just about making sure you put it in.
“The keeper came out and I think I fell over, I looked up and the ball was going in and I thought ‘no, this isn’t happening’.
“I spoke to my family before and said ‘imagine scoring a goal in the last minute’. To bring a trophy to this club is the best moment of my career.
“The fans as well, seeing them after the game I was a bit lost for words. It’s the best feeling of my life, never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d win a European trophy.
“I’m so buzzing, all of us are just going to go mad I think. You have to celebrate.
“When the final whistle went I just thought’ this party is going to be crazy. I’m just a little boy from Leominster who never thought I’d be talking like this. My family are crying and it just shows me how far I’ve come.”
West Ham led through a Said Benrahma penalty on the hour but were immediately pegged back by Giacomo Bonaventura’s strike.
But when Bowen raced through with a minute to go, boss David Moyes almost found himself going full Jose Mourinho.
“The moment he went through I was edging down the touchline,” he said. “If it was going to be anyone, I thought ‘this is the moment’.
“But I couldn’t do a full Mourinho knee slide as the grass was a bit dry and I’d have ended up on my belly.”