BEATEN but unbowed.
Sheffield United’s dreams of a second Wembley date in as many seasons may have been dashed – for now, at least – by Tuesday’s dramatic Capital One Cup semi-final defeat to Tottenham.
But the League One club emerged with not only plenty of credit from the wider watching football public but also a new star in their midst.
Che Adams, the 18-year-old with just 90 minutes of playing time in the Football League to his name, made the sort entrance to the big stage that every youngster dreams of.
Brought off the bench in the 74th minute and with the second leg seemingly meandering towards a comfortable Spurs win, Adams finished with aplomb less than 120 seconds later when set up by Ryan Flynn.
That was good. But then Adams, a fan of Arsenal as a boy, went and scored again just two minutes later to send Bramall Lane into raptures.
Christian Eriksen may then have proved to be the ultimate party-pooper by netting an 88th-minute goal to send Spurs through to the final but that could not take away what an incredible night it had been for a teenager who just three months ago was playing for Ilkeston in the Evo Stik Premier Division.
“It was a really good night for me,” said Adams, whose Blades debut had come in last month’s Cup win over Southampton. “It was horrible losing but it was a good team that we lost to and, hopefully, they can go on to win it.”
Watched by his mum and brothers – each one of them a Manchester United fan – Adams belied his tender years with those two finishes against Spurs.
The only time his naivety showed was when he raced off to the corner to celebrate his first strike, even though United needed another to force extra-time.
“I enjoyed the goal, as you could tell from the celebration,” said Adams, who was released as a 14-year-old by Coventry and spent four years in non-League football. “The manager wanted me to go back to the half-way line. It was just the emotion. It got to my head and I didn’t know what to do. But I was okay.
“When I went on, he didn’t really say anything but he knows what I can do and I showed it. There were no nerves, to be fair. A lot of kids dream of doing that and, fortunately, I can do it.”