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Ludogorets' Moţi on his star turn in goal

Defender Cosmin Moţi admitted he had never worn gloves before after taking over as stand-in keeper and saving two penalties as to earn a UEFA Champions League spot.

Cosmin Moţi is mobbed by his Ludogorets team-mates
Cosmin Moţi is mobbed by his Ludogorets team-mates ©Meridian Match

Cosmin Moţi admitted that "nobody could write such a story" after the Romanian defender replaced the dismissed Vladislav Stoyanov in goal and saved two penalties in the shoot-out to earn PFC Ludogorets Razgrad a UEFA Champions League spot.

"This is incredible, a dream. I have no words to describe the feeling," Moţi, a former FC Dinamo Bucureşti man, told UEFA.com after the victory over compatriots FC Steaua Bucureşti. "It was crazy. In one moment you are so close, then so far and then you win it. This is the greatest match of my life and I will never forget it."

Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendviev says Moţi's heroics were not completely out of the blue, though. "Sometimes during training sessions we practice penalties and he has a habit of going in goal for fun. I asked him whether he wanted to take the gloves it and he agreed. I told him not to jump prematurely and wait. He has a good instinct and reaction. But after all this is incredible. He has never even trained with gloves."

Moţi concurred: "It was the first time in my career I have played as a keeper. Sometimes in training I pretend to be a goalie, but it is the first time I've done it with gloves on. I relied on my instincts – there is no other way in such a situation. I was just taking last-second decisions on where to jump. Thank God, I saved two and we are there. This is it. This is the Champions League. Incredible."

Helmut Duckadam in 1986
Helmut Duckadam in 1986©Bob Thomas/Getty Images

As if that was not special enough, Moţi's star turn after taking the gloves in the 119th minute with all three substitutes made, took place in front of Romanian goalkeeping great Helmut Duckadam, Steaua's honorary president. Duckadam, of course, will always be remembered for his heroics in the 1986 European Champion Clubs' Cup final. "Duckadam is the probably the greatest Romanian goalkeeper. I grew up with the stories about that final. He is a legend," Moţi said.

So, Stoyanov now has a pretender to his No1 throne at Ludogorets but he says he is content with that. "Yes, it seems we have too many goalkeepers in the team," he told UEFA.com. "I was not afraid when I saw him putting on the gloves. There is no guarantee I would have done better. I have no words to describe this game. I had to make the foul, the Steaua player was too quick. But this is our dream, this is the result of sweat and hard work."

And, perhaps, Moţi's penchant for joking around in goal in training.