'Proud moment' for Joe Jacobson as he nets Wycombe winner in Wembley final

Star of fairytale play-off victory is the first Jewish player to score at Wembley in 53 years


It was a “proud moment” for Joe Jacobson when he became the first British Jew in 53 years to score in a professional game at Wembley Stadium.

Speaking in the aftermath of leading Wycombe Wanderers to a 2-1 victory over Oxford United in Monday’s League One play-off final, the 33-year-old left-back told the JC: “What young kid doesn’t grow up dreaming of scoring a winning goal there in a final?”

As well as netting the decider from the penalty spot, the Cardiff-born player also created the opening goal as unfancied Wycombe clinched a spot in English football’s second tier for the first time.

After the referee blew the final whistle, the emotion of the occasion got to him. “You are on such a high, just buzzing.

“But I don’t think you realise the magnitude of what you have done. This is going to change our lives. It’s all a bit weird. I was speaking to some of the players this morning and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”

It might also have seemed weird playing at an empty Wembley Stadium because of coronavirus restrictions.

But Jacobson said he didn’t really notice during the match. “You are just so focused on the game and the pitch.

“It’s only when the ball goes out of play that it catches your eye that there are no fans there. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve kind of got used to it. It’s become the norm.”

One regret was that his parents, other family members and friends were unable to be there. “That’s the thing I missed most. When I was younger my mum and dad used to take me to the games and come to training.

“But they had a great time at home. They had a party. From the videos I’ve seen they enjoyed it as much as I did!”

It was back in 1967 when Jewish winger Mark Lazarus netted the winner for QPR against West Bromwich Albion in the League Cup Final.

Jacobson recalled that when making his debut for Cardiff in 2006, he was the first British Jew to play in the Football League for 25 years — “so things like that always stick with me”.

He has spoken proudly about his Jewish background and is an ambassador for the Kick It Out anti-racism charity.

The former Wales Under-21 captain signed for Wycombe in 2014 having previously represented Bristol Rovers, Oldham Athletic and Shrewsbury.

Jacobson credits the unity within the squad at Wycombe — among the favourites for relegation at the start of the season — as a huge factor behind their unlikely success. “We have over-achieved massively but the belief has taken us where we are.

“We have got players from different cultures but we all stand by one another. Under the culture that has been created by the manager [Gareth Ainsworth], we are all encouraged to ask questions.”

When stories relating to Jews or antisemitism appeared in the press, teammates would ask about them. “We have got a really open kind of platform where we can discuss it.”

He also had conversations with Ainsworth about issues around racism antisemitism.

Another element to Wycombe’s fairy-tale story — only nine professionals started pre-season training — was new owner and chairman Rob Couhig, a wealthy American businessman who purchased a 75 per cent stake from the Wycombe Wanderers Trust.

Jacobson also paid tribute to Wycombe’s other Jewish player, Scott Kashket, who was among the substitutes on Monday, for his contribution to the club’s rise. “It’s great to have him around.”

He had previously played alongside Jewish South African international Dean Furman at Oldham.

Jacobson is in discussions about extending his contract with Wycombe and hoped that “something will come out about that soon”.

He spoke excitedly about the prospect of playing in bigger stadiums in the Championship — and against players with Premier League and European experience.

“The odds are stacked against us. But they always are at Wycombe. We are the underdogs but we bring out the best in each other.”

And his advice to young Jewish footballers aspiring to make it in the professional game? “Just keep working hard. It’s tough — but if you have a dream, then go for it.”


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