As the ball left his left boot and rifled into the bottom corner, a nation cheered. Dino Ndlovu may have been written off by some in South Africa, but he’s made history of Azerbaijan.
Check out Ndlovu's potential UCL opponents in the gallery above
Fans celebrated in the streets of Baku on Wednesday evening after the 27-year-old’s goal secured Qarabag’s spot in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, not just a first for Atlılar, but a first for the country.
“It feels good to have made history in our club,” he told the Siya crew afterwards. “But it all comes down to the hard work we’ve put in.”
Now, as he waits to see which three European giants he will be facing in the competition – the draw takes place this evening at 18h00 SA time – Ndlovu says that the work is not done after they beat FC Copenhagen on the away goal rule, following the 2-2 draw.
Watch Ndlovu's history-making goal below:
He explained, “It’s a feeling that no amount of money can buy… When we arrived back in Baku the streets were closed. People had slept at the airport waiting for our arrival and the response was intense. The people of Azerbaijan deserve this.
“It’s a good feeling, but there is still a long way to go because success is temporary and we need to keep working hard. For me it is a bit of an emotional feeling because some South Africans have written me off, and God has made me an example that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
With Ndlovu, who has five goals in eight games this season, poised to be one of just two players – alongside Rivaldo Coetzee if his Celtic move goes through – there have been calls for him to be included in Stuart Baxter’s Bafana Bafana side, but the player himself says that he has spoken to the national coach and believes his time will come.
He said, “Look, I don’t want the media to fight my battles because I believe that what is meant to be mine will be mine when the time is right, that’s all. Coach Baxter and I have had a brief conversation, I know he’s watching me and that inspires me to keep pushing.”
And who does he want to face? Barcelona? Manchester United? Juventus? “I don’t have a specific team,” he says. “I’m excited for the draw though!”