Joe Thompson believes destiny knocked on his door on Saturday, when he scored the goal that set-up a fairytale end to the season for himself and the club.
His 69th minute strike secured a 1-0 win over Charlton Athletic, which, coupled with Oldham Athletic’s draw at Northampton Town, saw Dale climb out of the relegation zone on a dramatic final day.
The 29-year-old has overcome cancer twice, the latest battle as recently as last year, and the goal was his first since making his return from the illness.
“Fairytales do happen, don’t they!” said Thompson.
“It has been a tough, tough 12 months for me – more than anyone can imagine. Coming back I thought ‘I don’t know if I can do it’.
“All the support, all the help from my family, the club, all the lads – it’s come down to one moment, and for me it’s my time to shine in a way.
“But the lads have done all the hard work all season, I’ve just had to spectate and watch. Fortunately, for me, I can say it’s come down to the last game of the season and I’ve had the opportunity to make sure we’ve stayed up.”
Thompson had allowed himself to think about the dream scenario, which came to fruition just minutes after coming off the bench.
“I’ve played it over again and again. I didn’t think it would be my left foot!
“But I don’t care how they come. It felt like slow motion when it landed to me in the box. I shifted and thankfully I’ve wrong footed the ‘keeper and put it in the opposite corner.”
Despite doing their bit in beating Charlton, Dale had to wait almost ten minutes for confirmation of Oldham’s result at Sixfields.
“I was thinking ‘how are they so far behind’?! I was watching it on the monitor and I was nervous like everyone else.
“Sometimes destiny comes, and thankfully for me it’s knocked on my door today.
“We were focused on the game, everyone was fully concentrated, and you do have to try and take the emotion out of it because you can’t control that.
“You do, however, have to control what’s on the pitch, and I thought the lads were magnificent and deserved the clean sheet. The back four/five were amazing and we did it up top.”
Thompson was interviewed by Sky Sports straight after the game, and took the opportunity to share the moment with his daughter, Lula.
“She means the world to me – and my wife. She’s been my motivation through some really dark and hard times.
“She always makes me smile and hopefully she’ll remember that. She sees Daddy as superman. My mum was here, but my wife couldn’t make it as she was working, although I’m sure she’ll be on the phone and I’ll speak to her as soon as possible.”
You can watch the full interview on iFollow.