Goal scoring hero Emmaisa Nzondo dedicated his match winning strike in the Professional Development League play-off semi-final triumph over Millwall to his late brother.
A last gasp effort from the forward secured a priceless win for the young Reds, as he emphatically swept home just before the final whistle to book our U18s' place in the final next weekend.
It was an emotional moment for the youngster, as he tore off his shirt in celebration and displayed a heartfelt message as a tribute for his sibling.
“This game was a big one for me especially after I lost my brother," discussed Nzondo. “He was so close to me and was stabbed not long ago. Scoring was really special, and I dedicate that goal to him.
“I’m buzzing to score. There’re no other words to say. We all knew what we had to do. Last year we got knocked out in the semis against Charlton, but with the team we’ve got this year, the win was bound to happen.”
The game was a tale of two halves, as our U18s looked to dominate in the second half following a fairly tricky first 45.
Nzondo and Vimal Yoganathan were both brought off the bench shortly after the restart and helped swing the pendulum in our favour.
“I know with how the game went in the first half that Nicky said to the boys they needed to do the basics better,” continued the 17-year-old.
“For our standards the first half was poor, and we know we’re much better than that. In the second 45 we knew we had to kill the game off, which we eventually did, and that’s thanks to the energy levels we have going into the later stages of the game.”
Nzondo’s goal secured the win for his team, but the forward was quick to shrug off individual praise as he recognised the hard-fought efforts from his teammates.
“It’s not all about me, it’s about the team,” he asserted. “I’ll take the credit for the goal but at the same time it’s an amazing performance from my team and I’m really proud of everyone. We’re through to the finals now and that’s the most important thing.
“We have to win next week. We’ve won the league, we’ve won in the play-off semis, so now it’s time to win everything and make a stand as the best team in this league and competition.
“Winning next week is our final challenge and hopefully we can end the season on a high.”