(Reuters) - Lincoln City's Nathan Arnold, hero of their third round FA Cup upset win over former holders Ipswich Town, would not even have been at the National League (fifth-tier) club if it was not for a crowdfunding initiative backed by supporters.
Arnold, who struck in stoppage time to secure a 1-0 victory in their third-round replay at Sincil Bank, was with Grimsby Town six months ago and close to signing a new contract.
But the 29-year-old rejected Grimsby's offer after Lincoln's fans backed a crowdfunding initiative online and pledged money to pay his wages, allowing him to join the club.
Six months on, Arnold has scored 10 league goals to help Lincoln top the National League standings, with his late winner against 1978 FA Cup winners Ipswich the icing on the cake.
"My missus had a dream we won 1-0 and I scored the goal," Arnold was quoted as saying by the Times. "My experience allowed me to keep a cool head for the goal.
"Before the game, we backed ourselves. They made five changes, which is not good for team continuity, and we wanted to take advantage. I am proud of the boys."
Lincoln manager Danny Cowley, a former school teacher, praised Arnold's composure after he rounded goalkeeper Dean Gerken to send the home fans into raptures.
"What a brilliant finish from Nathan. It's not an easy finish when the whole of Sincil Bank is hoping he sticks it in," he said.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris