HEREFORD FC and their fans are celebrating after Edgar Street product Jarrod Bowen's epic last minute-winner saw West Ham lift the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy with a fabulous 2-1 victory over Fiorentina in Prague.
The club posted on their website: "It's a footballing journey that dreams are made of. From the Edgar Street terraces to scoring a last-gasp winner in a European final, Jarrod Bowen has left everyone connected to The Bulls bursting with pride.
"His stoppage time strike against Fiorentina last night (Wednesday, June 7) handed West Ham United their first major silverware for 43 years as they lifted the UEFA Europa Conference League trophy on a dramatic night in Prague."
Growing up in Herefordshire and kicking a ball around his local park, Bowen dreamed of one day pulling on the white shirt and scoring in front of Hereford's adoring Meadow End, where he and his mates were regulars.
And the club added: "That dream was to become reality before he even became an bona-fide adult. As part of the Hereford United Academy, it was clear that Bowen had that extra ‘something’ about him.
"He possessed so much natural ability and a confidence on the ball and in front of goal that belied his tender years.
"When a special talent like this comes along, you have to nurture it correctly and give it a stage on which to thrive and at just 16 years of age, Bowen was in The Bulls’ first-team.
"The first senior goal, which had been played out many times with his mates with jumpers for goalposts, soon became reality in a vital 3-2 victory over Alfreton Town in April 2014.
"He made eight National League appearances, but there were storm clouds gathering over Edgar Street and in the summer of 2014, Bowen moved into the Premier League with Hull City where his progress within the ranks continued at a pace and led to him making his senior debut for the Tigers at the start of the 2016/17 season.
"It led to 131 appearances and an impressive 54 goals amidst many plaudits and personal honours.
"The list of suitors continued to grow as they jostled for his signature. He was hot property and in the end it was West Ham United who won the race, paying an initial £18 million with a further £7 million in potential add-ons to take him to the capital.
"His exploits with The Hammers have not only made him a firm favourite – maybe now a Legend – amongst their passionate supporters, but also thrust him into England contention, with manager, Gareth Southgate, once saying; “His direct journey is an interesting reminder that you don’t have to be at an elite academy – experience is a great route to go.”
"Throughout it all, he has remained humble and always willing to work hard and dedicate himself to his profession.
"“I obviously dreamed of scoring but to score the winner in the last minute…you always say you want to score a last-minute winner!” Jarrod told whufc.com immediately after Wednesday’s game. “To do it in front of these fans, I thought I was going to cry. I’m just so, so happy. I can’t put it into words.
“In my position, you make that run ten times and you might get it once but the one time you get it you’ve got to put it away.
“I was confident and then I’ve seen it go in and then I just didn’t know what to do. My dad. my brother and my two mates were in the front row too, it’s just so special.”
And his former club said: "From all at Hereford FC we congratulate Jarrod on his outstanding achievement, which has left us all feeling so proud for him and his wonderful family."