ALL those long months of frustration, all those long hours on the bench.
Hatem Ben Arfa was like a coiled spring when he took the ball on Saturday, with Newcastle United trailing 1-0.
Wound tighter still by his 90 minutes on the bench against Manchester United last midweek, something had to give in this third round FA Cup tie.
As it was, what gave was a Blackburn Rovers defence which had, up to then, been dogged and determined.
Few better goals will have been scored at this stadium in living memory, and in the Premier League era, it was as good, if not better, than those famously netted by his countrymen David Ginola and Laurent Robert.
Manager Alan Pardew certainly thought so after the game, labelling it the “greatest goal, technically” he’d ever seen.
Taking the ball in the centre of the half, showing an electric turn of pace, Ben Arfa jinked and weaved his way into the box, skipping past a dozen or so visiting players, before switching to his left foot and beating Mark Bunn.
Forget the magic of the FA Cup, this game needed a bit of wizardry.
Ben Arfa missed the bulk of last season after suffering a horrific double leg break.
And he admits he’d dreamt of scoring such a goal during his “darker times”, and in the playground as a youngster growing up in the suburbs of Paris.
“I dreamt of scoring a goal like that during darker times,” said Ben Arfa.
“I guess it is everybody’s dream to score a goal like that.”
Read Miles Starforth’s full match report, plus more reaction to Arfa’s wonder-goal, in today’s Sportmail.