To play at Wembley is a footballer's dream and for Aaron Martin, it was no different.Our number ten had no idea he was starting August's Promotion Final until a couple of hours before kick-off, but found himself a bag of nerves the night before.
“I remember being in the hotel room with Scott Brown. We had the football on, and I remember thinking to myself ‘get an early night, get your rest'."
"As I closed my eyes, all I could think about was playing a Wembley, clips of me scoring, the ball hitting the back of the net on repeat, constantly.”
Martin would only get two hours' sleep, not the best preparation for the most important game of his life.
He left his hotel room at 5am and started to walk around Wembley Stadium, waiting for the first coffee shop to open at 6am before messaging the squad group chat.
“I sent a picture of a smoothie to the group chat and said ‘is there anyone else who can't sleep?'
"An hour or so later the messages start to come in with the ‘what are you doing?'
“I think some of the lads seeing me nervous, made them nervous. I didn't get back to sleep and they were asking me if I was going to be alright playing.
“I didn't eat much at the pre-match meal and then found out I was starting, it was a big shock, the pressure was on.”
When the squad walked onto the Wembley pitch for the first time, Martin says everyone was starting to get nervous, as there was dead silence for about 15 seconds as everyone took in the surroundings.
However, like a switch being flicked, the mentality of the squad suddenly changed. There was a focus and thinking of “we need to win no matter what”.
Martin didn't know how long he was going to play for but the thought of losing, not doing everything he could was a something that would “haunt” the striker.
Read the full story of Aaron Martin's career, from being laid off as a labourer in 2017 to a full-time Football League striker in 2020 in Tuesday night's matchday programme.