A Championship footballer who played and scored for his club three days after the death of his newborn son has called the goal the most important of his career.
Billy Sharp turned out for Doncaster Rovers' 3-1 defeat by Middlesbrough on Tuesday after it was announced his two-day-old Luey Jacob Sharp passed away on Saturday.
Despite the disappointment, he captained the team and opened the scoring with 14th-minute wonder goal, which he celebrated by lifting up his strip to reveal a T-shirt bearing the slogan 'That's for you, son'.
In the early hours of yesterday morning, Sharp used his Twitter account to thank fans of both teams for the pre-match tribute - a minute of applause before kick-off - and to describe some of the emotions he had felt.
'My goal tonight was the most important goal of my career dedicated to my brave boy luey jacob sharp I love u son sleep tight.thatsforyouson,' he wrote.
'To captain the side tonite was an honour and a pleasure, the minute applause I was crying meant so much to me thanks to both sets of fans.
My goal had to be something special tonight for my special boy. I'm so proud of him, and his mum @jadecarlie86.'
Sharp's girlfriend, Jade Fair, also tweeted her thanks to the fans, writing: "@billysharp10 & I are grateful for the love and support we have received. Daddy did Luey proud tonight.Sleep tight angel.'
Following the match at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium, Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray praised Sharp for his performance on a night of deep emotion, telling reporters: 'For him to score a wonder-goal, your headlines should be there really - a goal from heaven."
Sharp's manager, Dean Saunders, also paid tribute to his player who he said had endured 'trauma'.
'I know what has been going on all week, the finer detail, and it is worse than you might think,' he said.
'But Billy rang me last night (Monday) and said he wanted to play because he wanted to score a goal for his son. He hasn’t trained, but when he said that, I couldn’t refuse.
'He is going to be feeling the pain for a long time yet. But maybe the best thing for him is to come in and train with his mates.
'This has been hanging over him for a while, but perhaps he can turn over a leaf now and begin to get on with things.
'What is really pleasing is that he banged in a goal for his son, which is all he wanted to do. It was like the story had already been written, and I’m really proud of him. It tells you everything about him.'
There was praise too for the match referee, Darren Deadman, who refrained from booking Sharp for his T-shirt celebration, as he should have done under the rules of the game.
(Apologies for the quality of video it was the best I could find)
|Liveleak on Facebook|