From being housebound to making a European Team of the Week alongside Francesco Totti, the last five months have been some turnaround for Ciaran Kilduff, writes Stephen Barry.
Only last April Kilduff was confined to a back brace for 10 days after suffering a fractured vertebrae in a collision with an opposition goalkeeper.
Yet his quick rehab helped take him from barely being able to move to the heights of European football, where he has excelled as a goalscoring substitute.
He headed in the 89th-minute equaliser against AZ Alkmaar as Dundalk became the first Irish side to earn a group-stage point in the Europa League.
Then last night – on his 28th birthday – he went one better, scoring the only goal as the Lilywhites clinched a 1-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv.
His goals have put Dundalk second in Group D, added €480,000 in prizemoney to the club’s bank account and earned him a place in the Europa League Team of the Week.
But his feet certainly haven’t left the ground.
He was interviewed after the game by Philip Egan and offered to give the Today FM reporter a lift home if he was stuck.
Egan wrote on Twitter: “Ciaran Kilduff scores the winner against Maccabi & after I interviewed him he asked me was I alright for a lift #GreatestLeagueInTheWorld”
Ciaran Kilduff scores the winner against Maccabi & after I interviewed him he asked me was I alright for a lift #GreatestLeagueInTheWorld— Philip Egan (@philegansport) September 29, 2016
But, as he said himself, “It's not about me tonight.”