By Dan King
Kevin Nolan rose from his sickbed to inspire Newcastle United to victory against Wolves - and roared: "I'd have to be dying to stop me from pulling that shirt on."
The skipper led by example once again in the 4-1 win, scoring the crucial first goal with a great finish from Shola Ameobi's flick-on and driving the team forward throughout.
That was despite a bug that left him unable to train on Friday and consigned him to his bed for the hours leading up to the match.
"Obviously it wasn't the greatest preparation for the game," Nolan admitted to nufc.co.uk. "I turned up to training on Friday morning and I'd been really ill through the night, but I managed to get over it and managed to just get through it, really.
"I'll be honest with you, I was feeling it in the last 20 minutes - I did feel like my legs weren't moving - but I was delighted to get through it, delighted with the win and delighted with the goal. It was an important first goal, which was nice and set us off, and I was absolutely delighted with the whole performance."
He added: "When I left the training ground on Friday morning, people didn't think I was going to play but I always had it in my head that I wanted to play.
"I love this club and I love putting on the shirt. I'd have to be actually dying to stop me from pulling that shirt on. It would have taken the gaffer to say I wasn't playing today because I was always coming with the feeling that I was going to be playing. So I'm delighted that he stuck by me, and I'm delighted that I repaid him."
The win moves United onto 39 points and was a massive step towards securing top flight status for next season, whereas a defeat would have left The Magpies looking uncomfortably over their shoulders for the final seven games.
But Nolan, who now has 12 goals for the campaign, said: "Everyone billed it as a big game but we just saw it as another match.
"The next one is always important and it was a home fixture, and when you've got teams who are just down there and if they win a game against you they come right behind you, you've got to make sure that you get those wins.
"And what we've done today has been fantastic. Every lad worked their socks off and I thought we were well worthy of the win. It was a great, great team performance and we can go home happy. But it's all about Aston Villa now and making sure we get it right against them next weekend."