“When I woke up this morning, if you’d have told me that I’d have scored a very good goal, I’d have said, ‘you’re lying’,” said Ben Wiles. The Rotherham United midfielder was catching his breath as he took a moment to himself after receiving his Papa Johns Trophy 2022 winners’ medal.
Wiles took even himself by surprise when he took aim in the first half, notching the equalising goal against Sutton United to make it 1-1 heading into the break.
The Millers eventually ran out 4-2 victors after extra-time but the number eight seized his moment in the 42nd minute, with the interval looming, to level the South Yorkshire side.
He unleashed what has come to be known as ‘a Rawmarsh rocket’, with that breaking the record for the most goals scored in an EFL Trophy campaign, as a chorus of 'he's one of our own' rang out around the bowl of Wembley Stadium.
“It fell and I took it to the left and took a touch, but there was only one thing on my mind,” he explained. “It was a heated game, going back and forth, and I just thought, ‘if it goes in, I’ll be buzzing’. I never would've thought it. Luckily, I went for the shot and it did come off. The stadium went up and our fans are very good when we score. I did a knee slide in front of everyone.”
The 22-year-old, who made his debut in this competition in 2017, saw his career come full circle as Paul Warne’s side saw off Sutton United in extra-time to lift the trophy at the home of football.
Wiles fulfilled a long-lasting dream of his to pull on the jersey of his hometown Club and step out onto the hallowed turf.
“If you asked me this question three or four years ago when I was involved in it, I never thought I’d be playing at Wembley,” he stated. “It’s a kid’s dream. To represent Rotherham, it’s something I’m proud of doing.
“They’re small memories that you don’t think about but when you look back, they’re fond memories. I’m very blessed to be in the position I am and I’m very grateful. I don’t take anything for granted.”
Paul Warne’s side finished the job in extra-time and Wiles and his team-mates are now eager to complete the double, with promotion from the Sky Bet League One their next aim.
“We came into this game and the win was on our mind,” he continued. “It wasn’t something we took lightly. Now, we take this performance into the League and kick on from there.
And the Wembley winner is expecting a warm welcome when he arrives home next week, fresh off the back of the Millers’ Papa Johns Trophy triumph.
“It’s a great place,” he smiled. “There are many people that say it’s not the nicest but it’s my place that I call home and it’s close to my heart. There’s a lot of good people around there. They’ll be very happy for me.”