Sunday 3rd April 2016 is a date that Jordan Evans will remember long after he’s retired from professional football.
The young left-back was given a starting berth as Oxford United took on Barnsley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium, and although the U’s slipped to a narrow 3-2 defeat, it was an afternoon to savour for the Welshman.
“We had individual meetings with the gaffer the night before the game, so I found out then that I’d be starting,” Evans told fulhamfc.com. “The buzz around the hotel and the stadium was massive, even from the day before the game.
“And then on the day it just builds when you start getting in your suits and everything. We got into the stadium and it was just unreal.
“In the tunnel before the game I felt nerves, but as soon as we walked out, every single nerve I had just went and turned to pure excitement.
“It was overwhelming; the fireworks that were going off and all the fans there. Stepping out onto the pitch was just the best feeling ever, it was so good.”
Sky Bet League Two Oxford went into the game as underdogs, and although the defeat still hurt, Evans believes his team can be proud of their efforts at Wembley.
“I think we all did ourselves proud,” he stated. “We were very much on top in the first half but then they had a good 20-minute spell where they took their chances.
“But I think we did ourselves more than proud, as we had done through the whole competition to get us there. Obviously we’re devastated to lose a cup final, anyone would be, but I think we did ourselves proud overall.”
The best part of 60,000 spectators were at the home of football for the showpiece, including several members of the Evans family.
“The fans were fantastic, they were unbelievable, they always are,” he said. “The following we had was absolutely unreal, they basically filled the whole side of that stand.
“I had quite a few family members watching. My mum and dad and everyone else were overwhelmed, emotions got the better of them I think, but it was amazing to have them there and see them after the game.
“Even though the stand was full I knew exactly where they were sitting, so I could see them during the game.”
Sunday was Evans’ 11th appearance on loan at Oxford, and he’s relished getting first-team football under his belt. Indeed, his first-ever start saw him score a wonder strike from long range in the opening stages – not a bad way to introduce himself to the U’s faithful.
“That was my full debut,” the 20-year-old recalled. “I made my debut two days before and then started against Yeovil.
“About four, five minutes in I’ve scored that which settled me a little bit, so that was a special moment as well.
“This loan has been invaluable really. Coming here and having to fight for my place, it’s good to get the minutes and the games that I’ve got. Hopefully I can push on and try and get some more games before the end of the season.”