One year on, Stephen Humphrys looks back on the day he turned hero and came off the bench to score the winning goal against Sunderland to ensure Blues avoided relegation in the 2018/19 season.
On feeling confident going into the game…
I remember waking up in the morning and I just had a feeling that we’d be able to do it.
I know it sounds like I’m lying but I said to my mum, who was going to be in the crowd that day, ‘I’m going to come on and score the winner, and when I do I’m gonna run over to you and knee slide right I front of you’.
I think I only half believed it would happen. But when it did, it was the best feeling I’d ever experienced in football.
On what his dad said to him before the game…
I remember my dad telling me before the game, as he does before every game, ‘just get in the box’ don’t worry about anything else when your team is attacking other than getting in the box.
I’m the type of player who wants to get the ball to feet and create my own goal, rather than sprint in the box and get the ‘less attractive goals’. I don’t know why but coming to feet is just more natural to me and I think that’s because I was a central midfielder until I was about 15.
On the match-winning and survival clinching goal…
I got in the box, I felt tired and lethargic. To be honest I wasn’t even concentrating on the game, I was just thinking ‘god I’m shattered’. I’d only been on the pitch for about 10 minutes.
Then all of a sudden, the ball just landed at my feet. The only way I can describe it, is it’s like when someone pretends to throw something at you, you flinch and turn away without even thinking. It was just like that, but I just thought ‘oh there’s the ball, score the goal’ and that’s probably the best way I can describe it really.
On his fitness heading into the game…
My fitness was terrible, I was literally bed bound for six weeks after my operation. After the six weeks I went straight back in to training, and I remember I was doing a warm up and I threw up because my heart was beating that fast. It’s the most unfit I’d ever felt.
I think I trained for two days before I came on against Fleetwood. I started the next match at Wycombe and honestly, I ran around for the first five minutes purely on adrenaline. And then I just crashed.
I remember thinking to myself, I’m just no use to anyone here. I was quite upset and I just felt useless.
On the mask he wore that day…
I was doing an interview for Sky after the game, I had it in my hand, and then all of a sudden, someone grabbed it out of my hand and ran off. So to the person who has that mask, please can I have it back?
On how he feels now after his recent operation…
Fitness wise I feel great. I’ve lost 5kg since my operation because I’ve been running and biking six days a week. I’ve been doing 5k runs and 20-mile bike rides to get my fitness up and lose some weight. The problem for me is never fat, my body fat is always around nine per cent which is great, but I need to lose some muscle which I am doing, and that should help me when I get on the pitch to be able to last longer in games.
My nose is fine, I can breathe perfectly again and it’s so much more comfortable to be able to run and actually use my nose to breathe through rather than having my mouth open.
Overall, I’m feeling good and whatever happens with regards to the season returning or not, I feel good and ready to return when it’s safe to do so.