Blair Turgott has thanked his West Ham United club-mates and fans for their support after helping Bradford City to score a sensational Capital One Cup quarter-final victory over Arsenal.
The Hammers loanee appeared as an extra-time substitute for the npower League Two club, who prevailed 3-2 on penalties after a thrilling tie at the Coral Windows Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The 18-year-old winger kept a Gunners back-four containing Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen and Kieran Gibbs occupied while his team-mates held on heroically to earn a 1-1 draw at the end of extra-time. Earlier, Garry Thompson had given Bradford a 16th-minute lead before Vermaelan equalised with just two minutes of the 90 remaining.
The England Under-19 international revealed that he would have taken Bradford's sixth penalty in the shootout had Vermaelen's spot-kick not hit the post, sparking wild celebrations among the Bantams' players, coaching staff and supporters among the 23,971-strong crowd.
"That was the best game I have ever played in in my life," confirmed Turgott, who helped the Development Squad to secure two Barclays U21 Premier League wins over the Gunners earlier this season. "The stadium was full and most of the fans were on our side. We came into the game as underdogs and had nothing to lose, but I think we deserved our victory in the end.
"We were three minutes away from winning the tie in normal time and the boys did brilliantly in the way they played and the way we set up to stop Arsenal. We knew that we weren't going to be able to pass Arsenal off the pitch, so I think the way we went about the game was great."
Bradford's success was their ninth consecutive victory in a penalty shootout and added to the spot-kick win they recorded over Premier League Wigan Athletic in the previous round - a tie that took place before Turgott joined the club.
"I was going to take our sixth penalty," he confirmed. "The club has won a couple of penalty shootouts recently and the same boys who took them against Wigan wanted to take them again, which was fair enough.
"I told the gaffer I wanted to take one and he said I could go sixth. When Ritchie Jones missed our fifth one I thought 'Here we go, I can be the hero' but then Vermaelen missed and we'd won and everything went wild!
"To beat Arsenal at any level is an achievement but to beat them with such a strong team was amazing. They respected the competition by putting out so many of their best players, but that maybe put added pressure on them and we were able to come out on top."
Blair Turgott celebrates victory with his Bradford City team-mates
Turgott, who received 'Good luck' messages from Development Squad coach Ian Hendon and many of his team-mates before the game, admitted he thought his chance to impress might have gone when Bradford went 1-0 up so early in the tie.
"I was thinking that I might not get on as we scored so early. As the game was going on, we were getting put under pressure a bit and I expected the manager not to want to change things because the boys were defending so well.
"The midfield was looking solid, so it was understandable that the manager didn't want to change anything, but of course I wanted to get on and show what I can do!
"When Arsenal equalised and the game went to extra-time, he told me to get ready and go on and liven things up and win the game for us. It was a great experience when I got on the pitch and I was absolutely buzzing.
"Hendo rang me before the game to wish me luck and it's great that the club is watching me and for me to know that they are keeping close tabs on how I'm doing. All the boys texted or tweeted me too, which was brilliant."
Turgott's loan is set to expire on 5 January 2013, meaning that, as things stand, he will not be a Bradford player when the Capital One Cup semi-finals come around. Regardless, he is determined to make the most of his time at the Yorkshire club and has no fewer than six npower League Two fixtures to look forward to between now and his scheduled return to West Ham.
"I have not spoken to the club about extending my loan yet, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I am enjoying the experience and learning every day. I have still got three weeks of my loan left and we've got lots of games between now and then.
"I am looking forward to Christmas as I've never played over that period before. We've got something like four games in eleven days, so it will be interesting to see how I deal with it."