Julio Arca shed tears of joy after South Shields blazed their way into the FA Vase final.
And the Argentinian midfielder said the Mariners’ 6-1 aggregate win over Coleshill Town would live with him for the rest of his life.
Despite all his achievements, and successful years in the Premier League with Sunderland and Middlesbrough, Arca has never played at Wembley. He will now get that chance on May 21 when Shields take on Cleethorpes Town in the Vase final.
The 36-year-old opened the scoring with a stunning strike from distance just before half-time, with Shields going on to win 4-0 in Saturday’s second leg in front of a ground record crowd of 3,464.
Arca said: “It’s something you will remember for the rest of your life. The fans were fantastic, the result was great and we achieved something great for the club.
“We made history.”
Arca was visibly emotional after the game, and could not stop the tears as he left the field to a rapturous reception.
He added: “I got emotional because we achieved something fantastic.
“But it was also because of all the people behind the scenes who are working so hard, which the fans might not see.
“So many things go into making this what it is. It means a lot to everyone.”
Wearsider Gavin Cogdon, David Foley and Carl Finnigan added to Arca’s goal to see off Coleshill.
On his goal, Arca added:“I don’t score many goals like that, and I never have!
“I thought I’d have a go and see what happened. The ball came to me and I just hit it.
“Luckily for myself and the team, it hit the back of the net.
“From that, we started to push on in the game, and in the second half we controlled it better and scored some fantastic goals.”