Joe Ironside grew up idolising Alan Shearer and he emulated the Newcastle United legend by scoring a “dream” goal at St James’ Park as Cambridge United dumped his hero’s former club out of the FA Cup.
The 28-year-old, along with housemate and goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov, starred for the League One side as they pulled off a famous 1-0 win against Eddie Howe’s Premier League team.
“I can’t describe it, I am a bit lost for words, it panned out how I dreamt it last night,” Ironside told BBC Sport.
“I have got to play here and it is stuff I dreamed of. Alan Shearer was my hero, I grew up idolising him – now I have scored the winner at St James’ Park.
“It doesn’t matter how they go in, I don’t care. We have all dug in together and it is a momentous day for the club.”
Bulgarian goalkeeper Mitov made a number of fine saves in the first half of the third-round tie then produced a wonderful fingertip stop to deny Joelinton in added time.
“It is unbelievable what we just did today, but we always knew we had nothing to lose,” said the 24-year-old Manchester United supporter, who is hoping for a trip to Old Trafford in the next round.
“It is not quite down to me, if we don’t score we don’t win the game. But on a personal note I am really happy – this is why we play football, to play against the big boys, to play against the Premier League teams. I love being a goalkeeper, I love diving around for a living, I am lost for words.
“That was something I will never forget. In the first half, the save from Jacob Murphy when I tipped it on to the bar, even the Newcastle fans clapped me.”
Mitov was also delighted for goalscorer Ironside.
“There is no nicer person on the planet to score here,” he said about his housemate. “It is a really good moment for me and him, I am so happy, he deserves it.”
‘Moments we’ll never forget’
Cambridge are 16th in League One and while they do not have too long to celebrate their shock win because they host Portsmouth in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday, boss Mark Bonner wants to savour the victory.
“There is always a fairytale and an upset in this competition, we always hoped it would be us but then saw the teamsheet and how strong they were,” he told BBC Sport.
“We rode our luck at times but the goalkeeper was outstanding. The fact we kept them at bay and kept a clean sheet is a major result for the team and the players and a great day out for the supporters too.
“We have to make sure we keep growing and progressing this season. These are moments we never forget because you don’t know how long it will be until you can enjoy the next one.”
It was a particularly special moment for supporters who did not get to fully enjoy Cambridge’s promotion campaign during a Covid-affected season.
“What an occasion for the fans and the players, they can soak that up,” added 36-year-old Bonner. “They deserve that because it’s a memory you can keep.”
‘I hope it doesn’t damage confidence’
Newcastle boss Howe was especially disappointed given the strength of the team he named, which included new signing Kieran Trippier from Atletico Madrid.
“Ultimately we found a goalkeeper in superb form and a team that defended for their lives and we couldn’t break them down,” said Howe.
“I don’t think there was anything wrong with our attitude, we just couldn’t deliver the quality to score. The players are very disappointed. They know the importance of the FA Cup and they wanted to win.
“We did have some good moments but we lacked that killer instinct every team needs. Then when you don’t put the game to bed there’s always a chance you leave yourself open and, unfortunately, one of those moments cost us the game.”
Howe’s attention now returns to trying to keep Newcastle in the Premier League. They are 19th and two points from a position of safety.
“The size of the task remains what it is,” he added. “I just hope the game doesn’t damage our players’ confidence.
“The next group of games could potentially be season-defining. Feeding the players and giving them the confidence to execute is the challenge I face.
“It’s a good group of players with a good attitude but we have to take this defeat on the chin and come back again.”