LUKE James etched his name in the Hartlepool United history books as the club’s youngest-ever scorer, and then declared: “It was the best moment of my life”.
The teenager – at 17 years and 64 days – blasted his way into Pools folklore with a stunning 25-yard volley during Saturday’s 2-0 win over Rochdale.
Previous record holder Steven Istead was some 48 days older than James when he scored in a Carling Cup tie at Sheffield Wednesday in 2003.
And the new terrace idol admits he is still struggling to take it all in.
“It actually felt like a dream when I scored,” he said, reflecting on his 80th-minute strike which sealed a first home win since mid-September.
“I’ll never forget it, the best moment of my life.
“I just seemed to hit it and everything went right for me – it just flew in the top bin.
“I didn’t know what to do when I celebrated – I was just running around like mad.
“As soon as I hit it I knew it was going in and I just thought ‘wow’.
“But what was even better was that we got three points, especially with it being at home because we really needed it.
“It’s a big relief, everyone is absolutely buzzing and it’s a weight off our shoulders now.
“But I never imagined it would be me who helped bring the run to an end – it’s unbelievable.”
James made way in the final minute of the match as Victoria Park took to its feet to applaud the man-of-the-match and then welcome Ritchie Humphreys, making his 500th appearance for Pools.
“The standing ovation was mad – I never thought that would ever happen,” added Amble-born James.
“I’ve just got to say thanks to the fans for doing that, it was great. And then when I went back in the changing room all the pros started clapping for me. That was nice.
“It was just the best day ever. My mam and granddad were there, which was great.”
Pools had taken the lead thanks to substitute James Brown.
When he scored in the 74th minute it was the first time in nearly 15 hours that Pools had led a game at Victoria Park.
He forced his way on to a bouncing ball amid bodies inside the area before heading home to help Pools finally put their losing streak at home to bed and give new boss Neale Cooper a first win since he took charge again.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Murray (Brown 68), Liddle, Baldwin, Monkhouse, James (Humphreys 90), Sweeney. Subs not used: Rafferty, Boyd, Solano. Booked: Monkhouse. Goals: Brown 74, James 80.
Rochdale: Kurucz, Darby (Tutte 82), Holden, Jordan, Widdowson, Ball (Grimes 77), Jones, Kennedy, Adams (Akpa Akpro 77), Ormerod, Bogdanovic. Subs not used: Edwards, Holness. Booked: Widdowson.
Att: 4,663. Ref: James Adcock (Nottinghamshire).