It’s been a hellish two years for Trevor Carson – and he says he wasn’t sure if moments like Thursday night would come again for him.
The Northern Irish international spent last season as number two at Motherwell due to the form of Mark Gillespie. He lost the number one jersey in the 2018/19 season after a DVT diagnosis.
That illness left him fighting for his career in professional football but he’s returned stronger than ever this season. His rise back to form was capped off on Thursday night with a heroic penalty shootout performance, the Well winning their Europa League second round qualifier 3-0 on penalties away to Coleraine as Carson saved every kick.
It’s a fairytale story, the 32-year-old pulling off such a performance in his native Northern Ireland after everything he’s battled. He says memories like that are why you play football.
“Those are the moments you live for,” said Carson. “I was out for two years or whatever and you do think these moments will never come again. Not just playing in the Europa League, but doing this on home soil back in Northern Ireland is what dreams are made of.
“It’s nice to play a part in it, but it’s not about individuals. I’ll probably get all the accolades for the penalty shootout, but it’s not a night for individual performances, it’s about the team. I think it’s one of the furthest runs Motherwell have had in Europe in their history so we are just delighted.
“Going by my record this season for penalties you wouldn’t think I had any strategy for them. I think that was the seventh penalty I have faced in normal time this season and I haven’t saved one.
“If you were a gambling man going into the shootout, you wouldn’t have backed me. It’s just nice to help the lads and get us through. There’s no pressure on you as a keeper in penalty shootouts.
“You do your homework and study the penalty takers, I had a quick look even before the final whistle.”
Tough tests await
It could set up to be four massive games in succession for Motherwell now. Next is Aberdeen which will be quickly followed with a trip to Israel against Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
Next Sunday has them welcome Rangers to Fir Park, and if they beat Be’er Sheva, they will face Viktoria Plzen or SønderjyskE for a place in the Europa League group stages on October 1.
It’s a big couple of weeks but Carson is focusing on the games close to hand first: “I wasn’t at all surprised at how Coleraine played. They actually have more experience in Europe than us over the years and you could see that by how they bought fouls off the referee.
“It will be a good experience for the boys but we see it as an opportunity too because when you look at the teams we could have got. You have got to see it as a chance to get into the play-offs and then you just never know.
“We need to deal with Aberdeen first before we head over to Israel and give it our best shot. It will be a tough game. They are a decent European side who ran Celtic close a couple of years ago.”