"I scored against Man United at Old Trafford and went into college the next day"
Rochdale sensation Luke Matheson talks to the M.E.N about THAT goal and how he juggles his blossoming football career alongside his studies.
"They call it the Theatre of Dreams for a reason and my dreams definitely came true."
Even days later, a beaming Luke Matheson cannot hide his delight after netting the goal everyone has been talking about.
The 16-year-old slammed in his first senior goal which just happened to be
Rochdale's equaliser at Old Trafford against United in the League Cup on Wednesday which earned his side the unlikeliest of draws and took the tie to penalties.
But it was back down to earth quickly for the teenage sensation who had already been linked with some of the country's biggest clubs - even before his exploits at Old Trafford.
On Wednesdays Luke doesn't even normally play football, with the time set aside for studying.
He is taking A-levels in sociology, psychology and history at Trinity C of E college in Hulme who, after the draw was made, gave their blessing for him to have the day off for what turned out to be his date with destiny.
But humble Luke, brought up a Norwich fan like his dad, went into school on Thursday instead as he had a psychology exam to test his development in the subject.
And he admitted it was an unusual feeling walking into his school building having been plastered across the back of every national newspaper following his strike which fired Rochdale to within touching distance of a famous upset.
"Obviously it was a bit weird seeing all my mates at first but they were just over the moon for me, whether they were United fans or not," he said.
"A few of them are Reds and they watched the game but they said they didn't care that it was against them, they were just made up for me.
"I've had nothing but positive comments which was great."
Asked if he found it hard to concentrate during his exam, he giggles as he explains: "It was okay.
"The teachers were great as well. Obviously they realised that how big Wednesday was and that it wasn't an ordinary day for me.
"So they will probably cut me some slack in that regard and might not be expecting my best work."
Luke, born in October 2002 and a product of Rochdale's famous academy, was handed his senior debut in September 2018 when Bury visited the Crown Oil Arena in the EFL Trophy.
That appearance off the bench, in which he was named man-of-the-match, saw him make history as he became, aged 15 years 336 days, the club's youngest ever player. That record has since been taken by teammate Peter Thomas who was on the bench at Old Trafford.
The same week he made his first league start, against Sunderland, the youngster who lives in Fallowfield,
picked up top GCSE results - including a grade 9 in history - the highest level under the new grading system.
Luke also got 8s in Chemistry, Physics and R.E, 7s in English Language, Maths and Biology, a 6 in Spanish and a 5 in English literature.
Since then he has had to juggle football with his studies at his school which boats former United and Arsenal and now Watford star Danny Welbeck amongst its alumni, however he says both are important to him, no matter how his career may skyrocket from here.
"I've done it for the past year or two so I'm kind of getting used to it," he says.
"And I do love doing both. I love football but I learning as well. I love going to both school and training.
"It could sometimes be something that was difficult to do, but both school and the club have been really, really supportive.
"So that makes it as easy as it can be for me and I've got to thank everyone for that.
"Football is what I want to do and I aspire to have a career in. But I want to make sure I've got that fall-back option.
"There are no guarantees in football, you never know what is going to happen. And anyway its a short career so you need to make you've got other skills and expertise."
Luke's goal, smashed in on the half-volley in front of the 6,000 travelling Rochdale fans has now gone down in the club's folklore.
"I've seen it back loads of times and it still gives me goosebumps and makes my hairs stand up every time" he says.
"I've seen the pictures as well and it's pure joy and jubilation. I can't put it into words.
"Whoever scored, whether it be me or 39-year-old Aaron Wilbraham, it would have been amazing, it was just an unbelievable performance and result from the whole team.
"Honestly just travelling and being part of the squad would have been a brilliant experience for me.
"I've never played anywhere like it, with a crowd of that size before.
"So to start and score was just a dream come true. They call it the Theatre of Dreams for a reason and my dreams definitely came true.
Many football stars have described iconic goals as being like a blur to them. But Luke says images of the moment will stay etched in his memory forever.
He added: "Obviously the cross looped up and it seemed to take forever to come down.
"It felt like I was sprinting towards it so slowly as well. But as soon as I hit it I knew it was good and when I saw and heard it hit the net I honestly can't describe the feeling. Then the celebration. Running away and seeing everyone going mad was just unreal. I'll never, ever forget it.
"A few of the United players said I'd played well and congratulated me as well which was nice."
His exploits have understandably turned heads across the country but Luke, who has featured for England under-17s and who has been linked with the likes of United, City and Liverpool, says he is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
"It's just about knuckling down now, starting more games. Not getting ahead of myself.
"But what I have done so far has worked so I just need to carry on as I am and see where it takes me."
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