ROB Elliot says his rise from non-league football to the Europa League is a “fairytale”.
The Newcastle United goalkeeper has played at every level from the Conference South to the Premier League.
Elliot’s gone from playing on loan for Bishop’s Stortford to turning out for Newcastle against Bordeaux.
And he’s and his team-mates are just 90 minutes away from the Europa League’s quarter-finals, with the return leg of the club’s Round of 16 tie against Anzhi Makhachkala being played at St James’s Park tomorrow night.
“It’s a fairytale,” Elliot said “I was playing in League One a year and a half ago, and now I’m trying to keep out the highest-paid player (Samuel Eto’o) in the world.
“As a personal achievement, it’s fantastic.”
The 26-year-old pulled off two superb saves to deny Anzhi striker Samuel Eto’o – the most-decorated African footballer of all time – in the first leg against the Russian club in Moscow last week, which ended goalless.
And Alan Pardew’s side go into the second-leg buoyed by Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League home win over Stoke City.
Elliot played just one game for United last season – his first for the club he joined from Charlton Athletic – but he has stepped out of the shadows this term.
With first-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul injured, Elliot is enjoying his first run in United’s team at home and abroad.
And the Chatham-born player hasn’t let Pardew or Newcastle down.
“It’s scary how quick you adapt to playing in the Europa League,” added Elliot.
“To make two saves from him is brilliant, but it’ll mean more if we go through and progress in the competition.
“Personally, it’s something to look forward to, but I just want to get results. That’s what it’s all about.”
While United left Russia last week more than satisfied with the result, Elliot and his team-mates are understandably wary of Guus Hiddink’s Anzhi, one of the wealthiest clubs in the world.
“We’ve got the quality in our squad – there’s no debate about that – but it’s going to be a tough, tough game,” added Elliot.
“They’re one of the richest clubs in the world, and have signed top, top players.
“It’s a great test for us, and hopefully we can come through it.”