Rory Fallon - New Zealand's new sporting hero
Moments after Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Mohammed Jaffar saved his goalbound header, New Zealand striker Rory Fallon asked a companion he always turns to for another opportunity.
"When I'm on the pitch I always talk to Jesus," Fallon told me. "I said 'Lord, give me one more chance'."
Shortly before half-time at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on 14 November it arrived - and the Plymouth striker headed the goal that secured the All Whites a place at the World Cup finals for the first time since 1982.
Fallon scored with a header just before half-time in Wellington
The mood before the game had been extremely tense. Few words were exchanged over breakfast or lunch in the team hotel, while in-between the players retreated to their rooms to kill the hours before the evening kick-off.
You could hear a pin drop on the coach to the stadium and the tension was palpable as the players arrived in their dressing-room.
Inspiration came in the shape of the 1982 World Cup squad, who were paraded around the pitch before the match. The current vintage looked across and realised how close they were to emulating them. It was a motivational factor of the highest order.
The team's eventual 1-0 victory sparked huge celebrations in New Zealand, with soccer fever infecting the rugby-obsessed nation. Fallon is a former pupil of Mount Albert Grammar in Auckland. MAGs can name countless All Blacks and league stars among its old boys, including the likes of Joe Stanley and Sonny Bill Williams as well as great Olympian Peter Snell. Fallon's name can now be added to the list.
"It was surreal," said Fallon. "My phone was red hot and the game was shown over and over again on TV."
Fallon had booked a helicopter to fly him and his wife Carly to a winery the day after the match. It was Carly's 30th birthday and Fallon wanted to celebrate in style.
Strong winds meant the trip was cancelled so the couple sat down in their hotel to eat lunch. Fallon got a call from coach Rickie Herbert informing him that the All Whites had been invited to join the Christmas parade in Wellington - and their float was to be at the front.
"It was madness," said Fallon. "Everyone was wearing the All Whites shirt and waving flags. When I came off the float I was surrounded by cameras - it was the closest I will get to feeling like Beckham."
Fallon hasn't had too many opportunities to experience the glare of superstar adulation during a career spent exclusively in the Football League.
The striker left Auckland for Barnsley as a 16-year-old, determined to pursue his dream of playing professional football.
Older brother Sean had spent a season at Liverpool but returned home after realising he would not make the grade at Anfield. Even so, the younger Fallon decided at an early age that he too would move to England.
"Auckland to Barnsley was a massive shock to the system but living in south Yorkshire was no problem to me - I was living a dream," he said.
After making more than 50 appearances for Barnsley, the 27-year-old has gone on to play for Swindon, Swansea and now the Pilgrims, as well as loan spells at Shrewsbury and Yeovil.
A physically imposing forward who enjoys getting stuck in and cannot stand what he calls "all this diving around", Fallon has a record of roughly one goal every five games.
He became the second most expensive signing in Swansea's history when they paid £300,000 for him in January 2006, but his move to south Wales did not work out and he was sold to Plymouth 12 months later.
Fallon was a player in danger of not fulfilling his potential, of becoming the sort of person who in the twilight of their years wistfully reflects on a wasted opportunity.
It was perhaps the low point of his career but, looking back on it, Fallon knows why - he had lost direction.
"I did not take football as seriously as I should have," he told me. "I just thought 'whatever'; I thought the game owed me whereas I actually owed it a lot."
Fallon was living for the weekend and drinking too much. But even back when he was at Barnsley he had a suspicion that there was something missing in his life.
"When I became a professional footballer I thought what next? That got me thinking," said the Gisborne-born striker.
"The first pro I cleaned boots for was Bruce Dyer at Barnsley and he was a born again Christian. I asked him what his faith was all about and it went from there but it has been a gradual realisation over time.
"I used to live for the weekend but now I live to glorify God."
Fallon met Carly in the midst of his partying days in Swansea. Her mother Pearl was a practising Christian but Carly was not.
Rory and Carly discovered their faith together and were formally baptised in January 2008. Fallon, who has stopped drinking, now helps under-privileged children in Plymouth and is involved with his local branch of Faith and Football.
Fallon believes that his faith has helped his football career
"I'm still the same person but I am not doing stupid things any more," he said.
Fallon believes that his faith has helped his football - it has improved his focus. But more than that, he says it is reassuring to have such a powerful ally.
"He was listening when I asked him for a chance in Wellington," said Fallon. "It is not always going to happen but I know that when it comes to the crunch, when I really need something, I know it will come off for me."
Fallon has had more than one helping hand this year after a change of Fifa's regulations enabled him to play for New Zealand despite representing England at junior levels.
"I felt that was from God, he changed the rules for me, that is how I see it," said Fallon, who made his debut for the All Whites against Jordan in September.
"I don't believe in coincidence. You can call it fate or destiny but I think it is God's plan for me."
Fallon is currently trying to put the World Cup to one side and concentrate on helping Plymouth haul themselves out of the Championship relegation zone.
Injuries, illness, a loss of form - so many things could yet go wrong for Fallon between now and the World Cup. He wants to concentrate on things he can control - training hard, scoring goals and ensuring he makes the strongest possible case for selection.
But whatever happens in the rest of his career, Fallon will always be the man who scored THAT goal, the one that ended a 28-year wait.
His father was part of the NZ coaching staff at the 1982 World Cup squad and his father-in-law Mike Llewellyn hit one of the biggest sixes seen at Lord's while playing for Glamorgan in the 1977 Gillette Cup final.
"I think to play in the World Cup would put me top of the family pecking order," said Fallon.
"And nobody can take away from me the fact that I got the goal that took New Zealand to the World Cup. It is an awesome feeling."
Not surprisingly Fallon will be glued to his television set for the World Cup draw on Friday.
Who does he want in his group? Australia and England, of course.