What they said: Penalty hero Reza celebrates Sydney FC's Grand Final triumph
Reza Ghoochannejhad’s stint at Sydney FC was short, at times stop-start, but ultimately sweet.
And after dispatching the winning spot-kick in Sydney’s Hyundai A-League 2019 Grand Final win the Iranian striker will remain a household name in the Harbour City.
Ghoochannejhad scored one goal in 550 minutes of action following his on-loan signing from Cypriot outfit APOEL in January – but on the Grand Final stage in WA, the 31-year-old forward was clinical when it mattered most.
“I can’t describe the feeling right now. I came in January and didn’t know what to expect,” Ghoochannejhad told FOX Sports.
“The guys welcomed me very well and to be honest I needed some time to adjust to everything, [to] the playing style.”
“We had only one goal – to be here and win the Grand Final – not only for me, but the whole club and the whole team.
"Everybody put their effort in today, and everyone has worked so hard to get where we are right now.”
Elation for Sydney custodian Redmayne
That’s how Sydney FC shot stopper Andrew Redmayne described his feelings after his spot-kick heroics on Sunday evening.
Redmayne, 30, denied Glory strikers Andy Keogh and Brendon Santalab from 12 yards to help his team to their fourth Hyundai A-League Championship.
“We knew it was going to be tough, we knew it was going to be a tactical battle, and it was,” Redmayne told FOX Sports.
“Credit to the staff, they put a plan in place and all the boys executed it.
“I’m just so happy that we could do it for our captain, our leader, Alex Brosque in his last game. He’s Sydney through and through and I’m so glad that we could do it for him.”
Santalab will recover: Popovic
Brendon Santalab will likely never forget his last kick in professional football, and it certainly was not the Perth striker's finest.
Never one to shirk responsibility, the veteran forward stepped forward for a critical spot-kick with Perth trailing Sydney 3-1 in the shootout.
But the retiring Hyundai A-League great saw his attempted Panenka penalty comfortably gathered by Sydney ‘keeper Redmayne, leaving Ghoochannejhad to slot away the decisive effort and win the Championship for the Sky Blues.
There are few in the game who know Santalab as well as Tony Popovic, with the striker having enjoyed a career second-wind under the Glory boss during his tenure at Western Sydney Wanderers.
“[Brendon Santalab] will get over [missing his penalty in the shootout]. Obviously he’s down at the moment, a lot of emotions going through his mind,” Popovic told FOX Sports.
“He’s finishing his career in the A-League, so he is probably disappointed it’s going to end that way. But when he reflects he’ll reflect on a very good career.”
“I’m obviously disappointed. We really wanted this. It went down to a penalty shootout – we were really close.”
I wasn't nervous: Brosque
Heart rates were pulsing through the Optus Stadium roof when the Grand Final turned to penalties but Sydney FC captain Alex Brosque looked as though ice was running through his veins.
The retiring Sky Blues skipper left the pitch for the very last time in the 95th minute as the prospect of penalties loomed closer.
His replacement, Reza Ghoochannejhad, would ultimately score the winning penalty.
“It’s always hard to sit and watch, but the faith I’ve got in these boys is incredible. Once it comes down to penalties, anything can happen, it’s a lottery.
“I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t anything. I just thought ‘whatever will be will be’. It’s a cruel way to lose, but an equally cruel way to win in a way."
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