Schalke's Amine Harit could barely walk, let alone run, when the full-time whistle brought the curtain down on a dramatic Revierderby on Bundesliga Matchday 13.
"It was painful, but I wanted to stay on the pitch to help the team. I can’t begin to describe how it felt when Naldo made it 4-4. It was as if I was dreaming."
He wasn't. Against all the odds, Schalke – having trailed 4-0 to arch local rivals Borussia Dortmund after 25 minutes – rattled off four second-half goals without reply to rescue a draw that was celebrated with the unabashed enthusiasm of a win. Harit was at the heart of the comeback.
"This derby will go down in history!" enthused the summer 2017 signing from Nantes. "It was an unbelievable turnaround that no one saw coming. I'd like to thank the fans, who got right behind us even when we were 4-0 down. Nobody thought we could pull it back."
Nobody that is, until Harit entered the fray. Replacing Franco Di Santo in the 34th minute, the Morocco midfielder's presence alone gave Schalke an attacking impetus absent for the majority of the first half. His maiden Bundesliga goal reduced the arrears to 4-2 and, with BVB on the ropes, nothing - not even an uncompromising 80th-minute challenge from Gonzalo Castro – was going to deny him his part in the mother of all Revierderby comebacks.
"My calf feels a little better now," Harit said, having left the field of play at the Signal Iduna Park seemingly without a snowball's chance of continuing. "I couldn't run. The last ten minutes were tough, but I had to play on for the team."
Watch: Harit sparks the Schalke comeback in Dortmund
It is just as well he did. Their numerical advantage restored - Dortmund goalscorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was sent off in the 72nd minute - Schalke threw everything, including the kitchen sink at their punch-drunk hosts. Daniel Caligiuri struck within seconds of Harit's lion-hearted reappearance, before Naldo landed the knockout blow in added time.
"Hats off to Amine Harit," commented Schalke head coach Domenico Tedesco. "He made a huge difference. I'm so proud of him and the team. He gave everything for us."
Harit has the sock to show for it. Checking into the Schalke medical centre on Sunday morning, the 20-year-old shared a photo of the ragged royal-blue nylon that bore the full force of Castro's calf-crunching tackle.