The strike that set Burnley on the way to promotion to the Premier League will always be the goal of Ashley Barnes’ life.
Barnes’ delightful volleyed finish from Dean Marney’s cross gave the Clarets the lead against Wigan on Monday, before Michael Kightly’s free kick sealed the win they needed to clinch second place.
It was a third goal for the 24-year-old since his £450,000 switch from Brighton in January, and the Bath-born striker beamed: “It’s the best feeling ever.
“I got one like it at Brighton when they got promoted to the Championship, and this one was by far the best of my career so far, and it will always remain the best to get to the Premier League.
“What a feeling.”
Barnes moved north early in the transfer window, and had to patiently bide his time for a chance to start, behind the Championship’s most prolific strike pairing Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, but he admits it has been very much worthwhile: “We were in a great position when I came.
“I just warned to help the boys out if I could them in any way possible then I would do that.
“Since I came, the gaffer and all the management staff have been fantastic.
“All the team have been so welcoming.
“I’ve never been at a club like it.
“Hopefully we can kick on now and stay in the Premier League.”
Thoughts of the top flight can wait until the celebrations have died down, but after the “one game at a time” mantra throughout the season, Barnes was only too happy to be able to say the “P” word: “Promotion - it’s the word we’ve been waiting for!
“It’s the best feeling ever.
“We’ll enjoy the celebrations and then keep on going.
“It’s what I came here for. I’ve said all along it’s what I wanted, to help to get to the promised land and we’ve gone and done it.
“It’s the best feeling.
“But we’ll celebrate first and get all those feelings out and start again next season.”
Barnes was delighted to be able to celebrate with son Flynn, saying: “To get the little man on the pitch was fantastic.”
And to hit double figures for the season was another milestone, on top of his seven goals for Brighton: “That’s 10 in all competitions. If I can kick on and get a few more it will be fantastic.”
He has two more games in the Championship before testing himself against the likes of Vincent Kompany, John Terry, Martin Skrtel and company, but he is confident the squad can do well in the Premier League: “It’s going to be tough, we know that. The main thing is to survive really, and I’m sure we’ve got a good enough team to do that.”
And he believes the supporters can make a difference: “The fans were fantastic again.
“I don’t think there was an empty seat in the home end.
“When everyone was singing it was just incredible.
“The fans got on top of them and they got all nervous and it was fantastic.
“That can definitely help us next season, without a doubt.”