Jon Walters was already a very popular man in Ireland when he laced up his boots to step on to the pitch as Ireland hosted Bosnia & Herzegovina at the Aviva stadium in the second leg of a Euro 2016 qualification playoff, but by the time he had left it, he had written himself into Irish sporting folklore.
Two goals from big Jon secured Ireland's ticket to France next summer, and the nation was overjoyed. The scenes were incredible as kitmen became soaked in champagne, players snapped selfies with the president, and fans partied long into the night. Jon Walters was the name on everybody's lips after his performance, and it was made extra special for the Stoke City striker by having his immediate and extended family in the stadium for the occasion.
Speaking to Daniel McDonnell of Independent.ie, Walters revealed how he resisted the temptation of a night of partying to take in the moment with his family:
I was trying not to let myself go. You couldn't have written the way the night went. It was just great to have the kids there. These games don't come around too often, and I just thought that I might never get the chance again. Who knows? We had all my mum's sisters there too, we tried to squeeze everyone in.
Their box was on the far side of the pitch from us so I came out afterwards to wave up, call them and tell everybody to go back to our hotel. I was supposed to go out, but I just wanted to go back there and take it all in. Sometimes after a game, it can be an anti-climax you know? But it was nice just to have calm, serene feeling. That was the sweetest part.
Walters then revealed his favourite memory of Ireland from his childhood, and expressed his feelings as he realised the impact that the success of the national soccer team has on the country, and it has only proved to make our love of that beautiful man grow even further:
hat I remember clearly is going into Dundalk to a theatre, it was a Christmas panto. Ireland had qualified for the World Cup and everyone was singing, 'We're all part of Jackie's Army'. I'll never forget that.
You can see what it means to people. I was thinking that when the President came in. It's not just for the players and the families but the economy as well. And it's worth more to people with the memories it can make, like the ones I have from Dundalk. For the younger generation, we're on the biggest stage and hopefully we'll do well this time.
He's absolutely right.
Every Irish football fan over the age of around 20 has vivid memories of previous tournaments, and the buzz around the country in the run up to them. For some it was Keano against Germany, for others it was O'Leary's penalty against Romania, or even Houghton against Italy or England, but when you're young these moments stay with you for a lifetime.
Hopefully Jon and the boys can create some more memorable moments in France next summer, and inspire a new generation of Irish footballers.
You can read more from Jon Walters over on Independent.ie.