Rainworth footballer Liam King lived the dream on Sunday as he captained a winning side at Wembley and twice found the net.
North Ferriby United’s penalties victory against Wrexham after a 3-3 draw will go down as one of the best finals ever at Wembley Stadium – and King was instrumental in that, scoring a crucial penalty at 2-0 down with 14 minutes to go to spark the comeback and then also netting another spot kick in the shoot-out.
“It is definitely the highlight of my career,” he smiled. “It’s never going to be beaten to be honest.
“I have scored at Wembley now. I captained the side and lifted the trophy – it doesn’t get any better.
“It is the best feeling in the world - all the hard work is worth it. Just seeing your friends and family there supporting you and a great turn-out from all the North Ferriby fans.”
The 27-year-old midfielder led his Conference North side out at the famous stadium for what proved a classic battle with Conference Premier giants Wrexham in the final of non-League football’s premier cup competition.
North Ferriby, which has a population of just under 4,000, started as massive underdogs - a division and 18 places below their Welsh opponents - and were roared on by more than 3,000 supporters among the 14,585 crowd.
Former Mansfield Town loanee Louis Moult and Jay Harris had the Welshmen 2-0 up after an hour.
But King kept his cool to bag the penalty 14 minutes from time before Ryan Kendall forced extra-time with four minutes to go.
Ten minutes in Kendall headed the Villagers in front only to see Moult smash home an equaliser two minutes from the end.
I have scored at Wembley now. I captained the side and lifted the trophy – it doesn’t get any better
Nathan Peat scored what proved to be the crucial penalty but once again keeper Adam Nicklin, playing through injury, proved the main hero, saving three of Wrexham’s six penalties in the 5-4 success.
“We don’t make it easy for ourselves,” said King. “It was unbelievable how it went. We obviously didn’t give up and just carried on.
“Going into extra-time, Wrexham are a full-time team so that’s when they should kick in. But I thought we did well in extra-time and were the better side. It was a case of let’s go for it.
“The lads had cramp and everything. But on occasions like this you get yourself through it. You look at the clock and know you’re not going to be here again and you make the most of it.
“Once we scored the goal in extra-time we knew it was going to be backs against the wall trying to protect the lead at the end.
“But their guy has scored a great finish in all fairness. Nine out of 10 times it would have gone over the bar or wide. He couldn’t have hit it any sweeter so fair play to him.
“We knew we were still in with a chance and if we’d been offered penalties at the start we’d have probably taken it. We beat Bath on penalties so we knew we had every chance.”
King recalled his 75th minute penalty that changed the day, saying: “There was a lot of pressure. But I had a feeling I was going to get a penalty all week and I had been telling people that.
“I’d also been telling them where it was going to go – top left – so I wasn’t going back on it.
“I’d been practising them all week and I felt confident to be honest as I have had a few of late and scored quite a few of them.”
On his shoot-out penalty, he added: “When you’ve had one in a game, it is sometimes a bit trickier with a second, thinking are you going the same way.
“But I knew if I put it to the top left again there was every chance it was going in as you don’t save them if they are going in there. It gave us a good start.”
North Ferriby are the first former FA Vase finalists to claim the FA Trophy and manager Billy Heath said: “To be honest, at 2-0 I thought that was probably it.
“But once we got a goal back with Liam’s penalty we took control. The players were tremendous and there only looked likely to be one winner after we equalised.
“The players did me, themselves and the club proud. Adam Nicklin will make the headlines but they were all heroes today.”
King and the players are now looking forward to a civic reception, King adding: “We had one after we went up but I think this one will be a bit busier with the massive support we took to Wembley.
“It is going to be exciting and we must make the most of it while we are in this position as it won’t come round again.”