Midfielder Stephen Gordon admitted it was a “dream come true” when he mounted to podium to pick up his Irish Cup winners’ medal at the Oval.
The 22-year-old has been the driving force behind the East Belfast team’s push for a major trophy – their second cup success in three years – which also helped earn the club a European £150,000 cash bonanza.
“I know it’s a bit cheesy, but this cup win is a dream come true for me,” he said. “I’m playing for the team I supported as a boy. It has taken me some time to get here.
“Last season I was out on loan trying to prove myself. I went to Ards, but due to injury, I ended up playing out of position for most of the time. When I returned (to the Oval), I was used more as a defender. I didn’t really feature much at the start of this season.
“But I remained patient and kept working hard. It wasn’t the case of throwing up the head. I got my chance in a League Cup game and I haven’t really looked back since.
“I’ve also managed to bag a few goals. I get a bit of stick from the boys because I’m never too far out, but they all count. I look to have the drive to get into the box and try and bet at the right place at the right time. Thankfully it has paid off for me. I just stuck to my strengths – I didn’t attempt to try anything I knew I couldn’t.
“My game is going from box to box. I’m not one of the so-called creative players. My job is to win tackles, win headers and try drive on the boys.
“Thankfully, the boss needs someone like that in the team – long may it continue.”
Gordon admitted he had to be mentally strong to meet the challenge provided by Michael Gault and Robbie Garrett head on.
He added: “It was a real battle out there – nothing less than we expected.
“Gault and Garrett are two experienced pros. They are very physical, so we couldn’t afford to let them run over the top of us.
“It was one of those days we had to stand up and be counted. It’s great to win a major trophy. We tasted defeat in the other knockout competitions, going out in the early rounds of the League Cup and the County Antrim Shield, which was disappointing.
“Once we defeated Crusaders in the semi final of the Irish Cup, we had great belief that we could go on and win it.”
Gordon hailed the contribution of Glens boss Eddie Patterson and his backroom staff who masterminded the victory.
He went on: “Everyone is aware of the financial situation at the club.
“I know myself if Glentoran had money to spend over the past few years, I probably wouldn’t be here along with a lot of the other young players.
“Fair play to Eddie, he has stuck by the youngsters. Obviously, his hand is forced because of the cash restrictions.
“I know we are labelled as a young team, especially in the Press. But in the dressing room, we don’t look at ourselves like that.”