MAGIC MOMENT: May 12, 2002 - Iwan Roberts scores the ‘golden goal’ he thought would take Norwich City up
For a moment, Iwan Roberts thought he had scored the magical golden goal that would end Norwich City’s seven-year exile from the top flight.
Those years had been painful for everyone connected with the club – in the boardroom, stands and on the pitch. So when Nigel Worthington’s 2001-02 side clicked into form to bag a second tier play-off berth by one goal, before dumping long-time promotion favourites Wolverhampton Wanderers out in the semi-finals, the Canaries had plenty of wind in their sails arriving at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium for one of the biggest games in their history.
City and Birmingham shared 90 minutes of enthralling but goalless football. But it took Norwich less than a minute of extra-time to break the deadlock – a moment few will forget – and considering the chopping and changing between away goal and golden goal rules, domestically and internationally at the time, for a split second Roberts thought he had already done enough.
“Mark Rivers played the ball out to little Alex Notman and he put in a great ball,” said the former Wales international. “Martin Grainger slipped as the ball reached him and it was one of those where the pace was on the ball. I got my head to it and as soon as it left my head I knew it was heading towards the back of the net. It was just the shear elation of scoring such an important goal, going back to Wales, back to Cardiff, my family was there. It was one of the proudest moments of my career at the time.”
Roberts added: “I thought it was a golden goal. There had been a couple of competitions in the years leading up to it where the golden goal had come into play and for some reason I thought that was going to carry on into this Play-off final. To be honest we hadn’t really spoken about extra-time or penalties – it wasn’t something we planned on doing and of course, when that goes in, I’m heading towards the halfway line and Norwich fans thinking that I’ve scored the goal that has taken us to the Premier League.
“All the lads have jumped on top of me, so I straightened my shirt, put my collar down and looked around – and they are all ready to take kick-off. It just clicked there, ‘Jeez, it’s not golden goal and there’s plenty of time for them to get back into it,’ which they did.”
Geoff Horsfield equalised 11 minutes later, and although Roberts scored his spot kick in the ensuing shoot-out, misses from Phil Mulryne and Daryl Sutch left Darren Carter to bury the penalty that settled a game watched by millions on TV.
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“We put a good run in and won five out of our last seven games to reach the Play-offs,” added Roberts. “Wolves had blown their big lead at the top, West Brom pipped them I think.
“I enjoyed scoring a goal in the final of such importance at the time, but obviously what happened after meant it paled into insignificance. I watched them draw level and then going to penalties and them winning. But for the Norwich supporters there, for the split second, it must have meant so much to all those people that had made that journey.”
He added: “But what a season we had two years after that.”
• Date: Sunday, May 12, 2002
• Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
• Competition: Nationwide League Division One, Play-off final
• Score: Birmingham City 1, Norwich City 1 (AET, Birmingham won 4-2 on penalties)
• Attendance: 71,597
• Story: Iwan Roberts scores in extra-time to give City the ‘golden’ goal he thought would take them up.