Stag­gies spe­cial :25 years in the se­nior leagues.

County hero re­lived his­toric strike while cel­e­brat­ing cup win­with­n­ear­e­stand­dear­est

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - SPORT - BY ANDY SKINNER

Alex Schalk was af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to re­live his mo­ment of League Cup fi­nal glory in the com­pany of his fam­ily just hours af­ter his mo­men­tous strike.

The Dutch­man came up with the late goal to de­feat Hibs 2-1 in the 2016 fi­nal at Ham­p­den Park, se­cur­ing the Stag­gies’ first ma­jor sil­ver­ware.

The for­ward, who had joined the Stag­gies ear­lier that sea­son in his first move out­with Hol­land, cel­e­brated the vic­tory with a large group of fam­ily and friends who had trav­elled from his home­land.

Af­ter their high spir­its caught the eye of a waiter in a Glas­gow restau­rant, high­lights of Schalk’s win­ner hap­pened to be re­played on a tele­vi­sion screen, prompt­ing a ju­bi­lant re­ac­tion from the Schalk party.

Schalk said: “I stayed in Glas­gow be­cause all my fam­ily had booked ho­tels – I had about 16 peo­ple over.

“I cel­e­brated with my fam­ily – we went for din­ner at a Span­ish tapas bar. The waiter came up to me and asked if we were cel­e­brat­ing some­thing, as it was ob­vi­ously a big ta­ble and my fam­ily was drink­ing, so they were loud.

“One of my friends turned around to the tele­vi­sion and told the waiter to watch as the high­lights of the fi­nal were on the screen at that mo­ment.

“He saw me scor­ing the win­ning goal so he gave us a bot­tle of cham­pagne for free.

“That was a great night.”

Schalk left County in 2018 to join Swiss out­fit Servette, who he helped guide to pro­mo­tion to the top flight last sea­son.

The 26-year-old still re­gards his close-range cup fi­nal win­ner for the Stag­gies as the high­light of his ca­reer, adding: “Nor­mally, I would never take my top off, but it was the win­ning goal in a cup fi­nal.

“County had about 8,000 peo­ple there which was fab­u­lous, it was a great mo­ment.

“I re­ally felt the love that was miss­ing at that point in my ca­reer – from the fans, the club and the man­ager.

“It was a great feel­ing and it still is – it will never go away. It is the best mo­ment in my ca­reer so far. On first-team level it was my first sil­ver­ware.”

Schalk’s goal came only months af­ter he had joined County fol­low­ing his de­par­ture from home­town club NAC Breda, and the for­mer Dutch un­der-21 in­ter­na­tion­al­ist ad­mits it took him time to adapt to Scot­tish foot­ball af­ter Jim McIn­tyre had per­suaded him to make the move.

He added: “I had a dif­fi­cult start. I was in Hol­land and I wasn’t play­ing, and when I was play­ing it was on the left wing which is not re­ally me. I ter­mi­nated my con­tract in Hol­land and went look­ing for an­other club, and McIn­tyre gave me a chance to come in.

“From De­cem­ber, I started play­ing, and it came to­gether in the sec­ond half of the sea­son, with the semi-fi­nal, the fi­nal and reach­ing the top six.

“When we beat Celtic 3-1 in the semi fi­nal, it was al­ready a high­light – maybe my best game

ICONIC MO­MENT: Alex Schalk se­cures Ross County the club’s first ma­jor tro­phy with a late goal against Hiber­nian in the fi­nal of the League

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