Published: 08:33, 11 November 2019
| Updated: 08:38, 11 November 2019
Dover goal hero Ruel Sotiriou was 'buzzing' after his late FA Cup winner against Southend, but revealed his loan move to the National League club almost did not happen.
Athletic's former O's boss boss Andy Hessenthaler used his contacts at Brisbane Road to try to sign Sotiriou after Alfie Pavey went to Barnet in September, but at that stage the 19-year-old striker opted to stay at the League 2 club.
Fortunately Hessenthaler persevered and when new Orient boss Carl Fletcher decided the Cypriot under-21 international needed more game time, Dover was the obvious location.
Sotiriou sat on the bench for the whole of the goalless league draw at AFC Fylde but when his chance came against Southend in Sunday's first round tie he was not about to waste it.
The striker, who scored three minutes after coming on in the 81st minute, explained: "I was supposed to come (to Dover) a month-and-a-half ago, but I was in and around the Leyton Orient team so I thought I'd get my chance, but when the gaffer (Fletcher) pulled me in the office and said 'I want you to go to Dover' I came this time.
"I only trained on the Friday last week and then we travelled on the Saturday morning (to Fylde) so I was just getting to know the lads.
"I thought they were excellent today, they dug deep and in the first half I thought we should have been up to be honest.
"I think we dominated the game and to get the winner I'm buzzing.
"The manager was just like ' (get) straight in behind, run them ragged' and that's what I tried to do.
"For the goal I literally took a touch out of my feet, I was going to square it to Inih (striker partner Inih Effiong) but I thought 'no I'm going to take a shot'. "
Sotiriou started his career playing Sunday football for Whetstone Wanderers in north London and then went to Barnet where his spell was cut short in bizarre circumstances.
He explained: "I was actually playing centre-back and my mum got me released.
"She walked across the pitch during a match and told them ' My son's not a centre-back' and on the Monday I got released."
Sotiriou had trials at several other clubs before joining Orient where he played under Steve Davis and the late Justin Edinburgh.
He also enjoyed a successful loan spell at Hampton and Richmond.
Mum Maria did not attend the Southend game – "She didn't want to come because I wasn't starting, but she did send me a text a saying 'Well done son with a couple of love hearts'."
Ironically Sotiriou's parent club Leyton Orient went out of the cup the same day, losing 2-1 at home to Isthmian North side Maldon and Tiptree, but the youngster had little time to celebrate his win with Dover, flying out to Larnaca on Monday morning to team up with the Cypriot under-21 squad ahead of a home game against Norway.
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More by this authorMark Stokes