Speaking after our 2-1 win against Brentford on Wednesday evening, an emotional Gerhard Struber expressed his pride at his young Barnsley side who defied all the odds to complete the most unlikely Sky Bet Championship survival.
The Reds, who spent 311 days of an extraordinary, pulsating campaign in the relegation zone, pulled off the greatest of escapes in the most dramatic circumstances at Griffin Park.
“I think in my football life it’s the biggest job that I’ve done and I’m so proud of my boys,” began Struber. “We showed a big togetherness in the last few weeks and I think this was the big key that we stay in the league; this was not only words – we can see in every game in the last few weeks that we must go on our personal limit in every game.
“We played against such a big opponent and, in the first half, they had no control on the ball; our pressing was brilliant. In the second half, we had a little more problems but, in the end, we never gave up and did our best with the long breath and now we stay in the league.
“Some people smiled, in the last few months, when I said we would stay in the league, but now I think everyone understands. We are a very good team and everyone deserves to stay in this league. I am so happy with my boys.”
There are so many heroes to pick out and so many key factors to discuss from our clash with the Bees that it’s hard to know where to begin.
Perhaps Jack Walton’s incredible save to thwart Bryan Mbuemo on the stroke of half-time. Maybe the numerous towering defensive headers from an often maligned but rejuvenated Mads Andersen, who has been tremendous since the restart.
But, ultimately, the game’s defining moments were our goals – scored by players who had never found the back of the net in their professional careers.
Callum Styles has shown his undoubted talent in the past few weeks playing in an unfamiliar wing-back role, but he has gone from strength to strength. His unerring first time finish to beat David Raya at his near post was hit with the sort of confidence you would expect from a seasoned striker.
And then there’s Clarke Oduor. Thrust into action with three minutes of normal time remaining to etch himself into the Barnsley history books by showing the initiative to race to the back post and tap home a goal of unprecedented magnitude.
“Sometimes we need a little luck,” continued Struber, who has seen his side dominate games but not get their rewards in recent weeks. “Patrick Schmidt with his final pass and Clarke – I’m so proud of my whole squad and we need everyone.
“I told the boys when we came back from lockdown, we need the whole squad – we need every player – and Clarke made this unbelievable finish. I’m very proud.
“I’m proud of our development. The plan is very clear for the boys and many players have grown up their personal style. Now, we don’t speak of talents, we speak more of professional players. You can see, against this massive opponent, we are on the right way.
“We had the right result and I am very happy for our supporters – they sent me so many messages and the energy, side by side, was very helpful.”
You can watch Gerhard's post-match interview on iFollow Barnsley.