Defender gutted at loss to Middlesbrough in the FA Youth Cup.
Youth team defender Daniel Matsuzaka was left devastated by Middlesbrough’s late comeback in the Third Round of The FA Youth Cup at Roots Hall on Friday evening.
The tall centre-half played his part in a superb Southend performance which had seemed likely to lead to a famous victory when Nico Cotton scored in the 90th minute. However, there was a cruel twist as Boro netted twice in stoppage time turn the tie on its head, and Matsuzaka struggled to convey his feelings.
“It’s one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt,” he admitted in the tunnel after the final whistle. “They might be a Category One Academy, but we’ve put in an absolute shift and done a great job as a team and, in 100 seconds, everything just went. It’s a horrible, horrible feeling.
“Nico’s done brilliantly to score that goal for us and put us 3-2 up, but that is it for us now, it’s the last time I’ll ever play in The FA Youth Cup. It’s heartbreaking and devastating to be 100 seconds away from the next round.
“I’ve never had an experience like that. To be 100 seconds away from the final whistle and for things to change that quickly, we’ve got learn to be as strong as possible. Once the final whistle’s there, that’s when it’s done, but the final whistle hadn’t been blown and we had to see it through for those last couple of minutes.”
Five of Matsuzaka’s 52 career youth team appearances have come in The FA Youth Cup, and he believes that the experience that he enjoyed as a first-year helped him this term in the fixtures against Leverstock Green, Barnet and, latterly, Boro.
“Last year, we didn’t play well in either of the games, but this year, all the second-years brought their experience in and we knew we had to be on it from the first minute to the last minute of every game. I thought we were on it, but in the final minute tonight it’s just gone wrong, and for that to happen is just horrible.”
And, as the Barnet-based teenager sets his sights on securing a senior deal at Southend, he feels that the performance that he and his team-mates put in against one of the leading Academies in the country shows the standing that the Shrimpers’ own youth department should have.
“It was a good experience. They had a couple of players that we wouldn’t come up against in our league, and we stood up to them. A lot of players in our team could play in their shoes, so it proved what we can do and what players at Southend United can do. It shows the success of our Academy.
“I hope to get a professional contract. I’ve learnt how to win games on loan at Harlow Town. There’s a winning mentality there and I’ve tried to bring that into this team, but obviously it just wasn’t there in that final minute,” he mused.