“It’s been the best season of my life.”

“It’s been the best season of my life.”

Two goals, three points, survival, a golden boot and a gate-crashed interview later, Sammie Szmodics threw a mini tantrum when asked to remain in the interview room after he and Joe Rankin-Costello hijacked Harry Pickering’s post-match thoughts. After the trio was reduced to just the Championship’s top scorer, Szmodics – with Birra Moretti in hand – reflected on his outstanding individual campaign.

“Two goals, a great team performance, golden boot, I couldn’t have asked for anything more: amazing. We just knew it was in our hands and we needed a point. I thought we defended brilliantly. We’re dangerous on the counter-attack and we proved that again today. It started with Pearsy (Aynsley Pears) making an unbelievable save from Harry Winks’ shot, which I was delighted with, because he was my man. We just dug in as a team and deserved a win, I think.

“We knew at half-time, that teams were winning and Birmingham City were drawing. Then we were going into the second-half blind, knowing we had to do our jobs. Like I’ve said, it sounds like a broken record, but the defence were amazing. If we got one cleared down the middle, because they were pushing people up, we will score. Joe (Rankin-Costello) delivered a great pass and he did most of the work for me, all I had to do was tap it in, job done.

“I celebrated a bit early for the second one, I’ll be honest. The first one was all me! The second one was on a plate from JRC, I touched it past the goalie and celebrated a bit too early, as I had a lot to do and their centre-half (Wout Faes) nearly caught me, but it’s a great feeling, not only for us but for the fans who have backed us here today. We’ve come to the King Power again, and done a job on them. Congratulations to Leicester City, they’ve probably been the best team we’ve played all season and they have some great players. Emotions are high because we’ve dug in all season and we deserve to stay in this league.

“Those moments with the supporters are special. We’ve worked so hard as a club, we deserve it. It’s been an up and down season, we’re not where we want to be. We’re too good to be down there fighting relegation, but this season’s been a tough one. We’ve shown much needed resilience and people were against us and doubting us all season, especially after the manager (John Eustace) came in. We’ve proved today, that we’re a proper Championship team and we can rebuild in the summer and go again next season.

“It’s been the best season of my life. It sounds cliché, but I couldn’t have done it without the lads. We’re such a tight-knit group and to score 32 goals…is it 33? Oops! To score 33 goals is amazing for me, but look at how hard the defence and midfield worked today; we dug in. We’ve argued all season, we’ve celebrated all season, we deserve this.”