St Mirren revel in Scottish League Cup glory

 

St Mirren striker Steven Thompson was "bursting with pride" after lifting the League Cup for his boyhood heroes.

The experienced Scotland international was on target in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Hearts at Hampden.

"I've been dreaming about doing it ever since we beat Celtic [in the semi-final] and I won't lie, I've not had a lot of sleep," he told BBC Scotland.

"It's just an amazing feeling and in the next few days I'll realise what it means."

Thompson, 34, struck early in the first minute of the second half to give the Buddies a 2-1 lead after Esmael Goncalves had levelled Ryan Stevenson's opener for the Edinburgh side.

Conor Newton drove in a third goal for Danny Lennon's side but Stevenson reduced the deficit with five minutes remaining to ensure a nervy ending.

"It's pretty much indescribable really," added Paisley-born Thompson.

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"I made a near-post run and made sure I was really concentrating to make a good connection with the ball - you could probably see from my face that it was a dramatic moment."

The final whistle sparked scenes of wild celebration from the St Mirren supporters, with this being a first success in the tournament and the club's first major silverware since the Scottish Cup in 1987.

Of the fans, Thompson added: "I'm a supporter too and it's been a quarter of a century since we won a cup so it means everything to them.

"It's great to be part of the history of this football club and I'm bursting with pride."

Jubilant manager Danny Lennon was quick to praise Thompson's contribution, saying: "It is Roy of the Rovers stuff for him.

"Before we came out for the second-half I said to him, 'it is written for you, you are living your boyhood dream'.

Steven Thompson (centre) scored St Mirren's second goal at Hampden

Thompson celebrates scoring St Mirren's second goal at Hampden

"It was a wonderful finish from him. I thought Conor Newton's goal was a wonderful bit of football but Stevie is a top player, he has had a wonderful career and we are getting the best out of him on a weekly basis."

Captain Jim Goodwin returned from injury to lead the team from central defence and he too was overjoyed at the triumph.

"You watch so many legends going up those [Hampden] steps over the years, you just hope, as a boy, that you're going to get the opportunity to do it," he told BBC Scotland.

"I've fulfilled one of my dreams today.

"It's such a proud moment for me. Loads of my family are over from Ireland. It's a St Patrick's Day that will live with me forever."

Goodwin and his team-mates were under the cosh for much of the opening half hour and for a 10 minute spell at the end of a pulsating encounter.

"The last five minutes seemed like half an hour," he explained. "We were just holding on and holding on.

"I was trying to say to the lads just relax, let's calm down.

"We'd never have forgiven ourselves if we had lost an equaliser at the end.

Interview - St Mirren boss Danny Lennon

"I don't like naming names. As a team, we were absolutely outstanding.

"We've not got the biggest budget, we've not got the biggest fan base but what we lack in those areas we make up for in team spirit."

Admitting his side were fortunate to be level at the break, Lennon was delighted at the response to his dressing room words.

"I got into the players at half-time and reminded them that if they wanted to become legends there was a game of football to be played," he revealed.

"There was a little bit of emotion, there were raised voices, some comforting words but more importantly, I reminded them that these opportunities don't come very often," he said.

"Some players will play their full career and never get the opportunity to play in a national final in the national stadium.

"And the reality is that for some of these players it might be their last, so my message to them was make sure that it was a day that they could remember for the rest of their lives and to be fair they gave us and everyone associated with our wonderful football club a memory to cherish for the rest of our lives."