Robbie Brady admitted his head was “all over the place” after his goal took the Republic of Ireland into the Euro 2016 knockout stage with a dream victory over Italy.
Brady’s 85th-minute header handed Ireland the win they needed to emerge from Group E in third place and book themselves a last-16 showdown with hosts France in Lyon on Sunday.
The Norwich midfielder said: “I can’t really explain the feeling. People who have scored these type of goals, they speak about it and say it’s like an out-of-body experience and I was lucky enough to experience that tonight.
“I’m stuck for words really, I don’t know what to say. My head’s still a bit all over the place, but I’m absolutely delighted with it.
“I sort of lost myself a little bit in the celebrations, but I couldn’t help it. It’s what dreams are made of. It was a proud night for myself and fantastic for the team.”
Brady’s big chance came just seconds after substitute Wes Hoolahan had passed up a glorious opportunity to win the game, but it was he who provided his team-mate with the perfect cross from which to write himself into Irish football’s folklore.
The match-winner said: “I think the chance Wes had before, it all came so quickly. It was a massive moment and it just got caught under his feet a little bit.
“But it just shows the character and the playmaker he is to go and pick the ball up two minutes later and put it exactly where I ran, so all the plaudits to Wes Hoolahan as well.
“It was a fantastic ball. He put it right on my head and I would have done well to miss, I think.”
Manager Martin O’Neill, who became the first man to guide the nation to the knockout stages of the European Championship, joked that Hoolahan might have had questions to answer after the game had he not made amends.
O’Neill said: “You make a very good point, to keep his head, because he may well have lost it in the dressing room had he not have done.
“It was a great cross. I am delighted for him because he might have rued that miss. It was a great chance for us and I must admit while I am incredibly positive, I was concerned that we might not create as good a chance again.
“I know I don’t look it, but I’m absolutely thrilled. I haven’t got an ounce of energy left.”