John Ruddy knows that special April night in Cardiff is what his Wolves career is likely to be remember for in the future.
The goalkeeper’s penalty save from Gary Madine in injury time was enough drama for a top versus second clash, even before Junior Hoilett struck the bar with an even later spot kick.
Ruddy’s heroics will be long remembered and on Monday evening’s Old Gold Club: Big Match Revisited launch, he reflects on the dramatic scenes that night with Mikey Burrows and Chris Iwelumo.
At 8pm on Monday the latest Wolves feature will premiere on Wolves’ official YouTube channel, with Ruddy joining Barry Douglas and Ruben Neves, in the first of a series of epic matches revisited from yesteryear.
On the air of confidence all season
“You looked at everybody and trusted every single person in that squad to execute their role and that gave you confidence that you were always going to have a chance in whatever game you were playing.
“We beat Middlesbrough in the first game and then Derby, then after that game ‘Doc’ was coming in saying we were getting promoted. He was half-joking, but half-serious as well and I think the air of confidence between us players was such that someone could make a joke like that, but people would agree.
“Two games in, there was a long way to go, but at the same time we had more than enough in the squad to execute those goals and it showed for the whole season.”
On a crazy week beforehand
“The Middlesbrough game came on the back of an international break. Romain Saiss only got back Thursday morning, hence the reason after the game he was almost passed out on the pitch. We had a lot of lads come in and only have a couple of days training before the Middlesbrough one, which was a big enough game on its own.
“It encapsulates the whole Championship, you go from a battling performance with nine men against Middlesbrough – a great victory – to a Hull game where you’ve got to go again and people are saying ‘it should be OK, you’ll get three points’.
“You can’t take your foot off the gas, but you need to keep going. Oskar [Burr] came in and chipped in with an invaluable goal, but we were slightly disheartened against Hull, going into a massive game against Cardiff.
“You know what you’re playing for, ultimately the gap’s going to be three or nine points – it’s effectively a promotion game. Win this one and the writing is on the wall.”
On saving Madine’s penalty
“I don’t save many penalties, that’s the honest truth, but I looked at him and he looked to my right and I thought it was too obvious. It might have been a sub-conscious thing. Every single penalty I’d researched of Madine went to my right, but I thought he was going to switch it up, luckily he did and it was a good, strong hand.
“If that first penalty was in the 36th minute, he probably scores because there’s less pressure on him – there’s still a lot of game to go, but the whole atmosphere, the whole occasion. I’m not going to say it got to him because he struck a really good ball, he was just unfortunate I went the same way.”
On Hoilett’s penalty miss
“I’ll be honest, I looked around at ‘Benno’ and ‘Coads’, and we were cussing ‘Cav’ out, but I’ll be honest, I looked at it afterwards and, to be fair, he slipped, but at the time I’m thinking ‘I’ve just saved a penalty in the last minute for us to go nine points clear and now you’re giving one away literally a minute later’.
“I’d just saved one to my left, it was a good save, I’m thinking he’s got to whip it as hard as he can to the right, and he doesn’t. It’s hit the bar and ‘Benno’s’ come in for the header and I thought Mike Dean was going to give another penalty. I don’t know why, I just thought we have going to give a hat-trick, but he didn’t and blew the whistle.”
On the celebrations
“I just remember putting my arms in the air. I can’t remember who was next to me, but everyone jumped on top and in that moment, you’re thinking ‘don’t go to the floor’ because I’ve got no chance.
“It was great feeling. Obviously, we got undone with the two penalties, but that passage of play showed our togetherness. You could see the reaction of everyone, nobody was battering ‘Cav’ or ‘Coads’, you might have been thinking it, but the togetherness we had was there for everyone to see.”
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