When Luke Matheson strode out at Old Trafford on Wednesday the 25th of September alongside his Rochdale team-mates, it must have felt like a dream come true to be playing in front of 58,000 fans.
When Oliver Rathbone reacted at the back post to reach a pass, the midfielder hung up a high, looping cross and arriving at the back post was 16 year-old Matheson, who volleyed a shot past Sergio Romero and past the attempts of Paul Pogba stood on the line attempting to head the ball away. It must have felt like all his Christmases come at once.
Matheson wheeled away in excitement, unable to believe that he had just scored an equaliser for his hometown club in front of 58,000 supporters against one of the biggest clubs in the country.
After the game, the young kid would have been inundated with texts of congratulations from family, friends and perhaps even mere strangers online. He would have had a feeling that he’s never had before and may never feel again, not just because of scoring his first senior goal but of doing it on a stage where thousands of fans were watching.
It’s hard to decipher what may have been going through Matheson’s head as he watched the ball hit the net and in the moments after the game, but he will have different feelings churning up inside him, the disappointment of penalty defeat, the happiness at scoring a first senior goal, them just being two emotions that he could have been feeling.
Even afterwards, Matheson then has to deal with the overnight fame that he has been subjected to having now found a new level of local fame for himself. He revealed that he had a psychology exam in school on Thursday, the day after the game, and it must have been hard with his classmates and school staff quoting that he “was the kid who had scored against Manchester United”. Sitting the exam must have been difficult, but it has the hallmarks of Matheson being a well-grounded kid who has a backup plan if his plan A, football, goes wrong. But for Matheson, that goal will remain imprinted in his mind for a long time.