After scoring the goal that ensured Barnet were the one remaining non-League team in the fourth round of the FA Cup, Shaq Coulthirst posted a video and message of touching simplicity on Twitter: “Unbelievable result. Fans were ridiculous. That was for you mum.”
Coulthirst had dropped to his knees following the penalty against Sheffield United which set up Sunday’s live television match against Brentford before slowly bowing his head to the floor. His team-mates, who checked their normal desire to celebrate by jumping on the goalscorer, understood the significance of this gesture.
Sonia died last September from cancer and, as Coulthirst sat down at the club’s Hive base on Friday and outlined his mother’s influence, two things became strikingly evident. First the inspiration that she will always provide, but also the danger in judging a young player’s career prematurely.
Coulthirst, who is still only 24, spent 11 years in the Tottenham Hotspur academy. He graduated through the various age groups with another striker – a certain Harry Kane – and was deemed promising enough to make a first-team appearance in the Europa League in 2013 under Andre Villas-Boas.
It is easy to superficially research what happened next. Kane, with his MBE and 180 goals for club and country, would become one of the most celebrated strikers in the world. Coulthirst left Spurs in 2014 in search of first-team experience and, after spells at Leyton Orient, Torquay United, Southend United, York City, Wigan Athletic and Peterborough, is now with Barnet in the fifth tier.