Andy Lonergan is a proud man this morning after making his Stoke City debut and finally reaching a big career milestone.
Lonergan had been in the nervous 390s for 21 months before finally making the 400th appearance of a long career which has taken him from Preston to Fulham, Middlesbrough and Liverpool.
Now 37, he had spent last season as a widely-praised training goalkeeper at Anfield, handed a Premier League winner’s medal by Jurgen Klopp for his contribution.
He had to wait until December to find a new club but was then parachuted into Carabao Cup quarter-final with Stoke after a remarkable keeper crisis.
Adam Davies and Angus Gunn were both injured and, after Joe Bursik was recalled from loan to take the gloves, emergency deputy recruit Niki Maenpaa also suffered injury.
Bursik had already played in the cup for Doncaster Rovers so Michael O’Neill picked Lonergan against Spurs last night – his first outing since a loan spell at Rochdale back in early 2019.
He wrote on Twitter: “Pleased to make my 400th career appearance and make my debut for Stoke City. Not the result we wanted, but we showed resilience.”
He added after being inundated with support from fans who wished they could have given him a hero’s welcome: “Appreciate all the kind messages from the fans, I read them all, it means a lot.”
There was support in the Stoke camp too.
O’Neill said: “He did very well. I thought we put him under some unnecessary pressure in the first half with balls back to him and Spurs’ press was very good. They were aggressive in terms of how they pressed and we turned down an opportunity to play the ball forward to give it back to Andy.
“He made some good saves and he had no chance with the goals.”
Teammates got in touch on social media too.
Captain on the night Danny Batth said: “Congrats mate – credit to yourself and the family.”
Tyrese Campbell added: “Congrats mate, different class.”
Others chipped in with emojis.
It was a tough test for Stoke, who had already claimed Premier League scalps against Wolves and Aston Villa, and they ended up going down 3-1.
Batth added: “Plenty of positives for us to take from the cup run but ultimately a step too far for us. We keep working.”