A hero goalkeeper who missed the birth of his twin daughters to play in his side’s FA Cup triumph has spoken of how he feared she would ‘give him some stick’ for not being present at their arrival.
Newport County player Joe Day was seen on live television running off the pitch after his side beat Middlesbrough 2-0, setting up a glamour tie with Manchester City and sending team-mates and fans into a frenzy.
The 28-year-old knew the birth was imminent but had his phone turned off during the win on Tuesday night, meaning he could not be there for the arrival of Sophia and Emelia.
Joe Day and his wife Lizzie with their twins Sophia and Emelia after he missed their birth while starring in an FA Cup win for his club Newport County on Tuesday night
The twins were born during the first half of the match and the goalkeeper was unaware
Sophia and Emelia were born after 8pm and their father dashed off the pitch at full-time
Day is pictured leaving the field on the final whistle after being told the happy news
And as soon as the final whistle went Day asked boss Michael Flynn if he could dash off to see his family – but he missed the births of the babies who arrived at 8.13pm and 8.35pm – during the first half of the tie at a hospital just two miles away.
On Wednesday, the exhausted new father said of his wife: ‘I thought I might get some stick but she’s been great. I’m just so proud of her and my two little girls.
‘I knew their birth was on the cards but I just had to shut everything out for the game.’
He added: ‘We always knew there was a chance the birth would fall during the match, but Lizzie backed me and made it an easy decision for me to play the game.
Newport County goalkeeper Joe Day cut short FA Cup celebrations to see his pregnant wife
Day, right with his wife Lizzie who gave birth to the couple’s twin babies during the FA Cup win
The twin baby girls named Sophia Grace and Emilia Lillie were born during the FA Cup tie
‘Nothing was really happening at midday on Tuesday, but as I was driving to the game Lizzie called me to say that her waters had gone.
‘I got to the ground when she was being taken to the labour ward but she told me to concentrate on the game.
‘I didn’t know the girls had been born when I ran off the pitch at the end. Until I got into my car and called Lizzie I didn’t know what was going on as we’d had no contact since before the game, but Lizzie told me that there was two little girls and they were perfect and waiting for me to arrive at the hospital – and we’ve been here ever since.’
Lizzie, who was kept up to date with news of the football game during labour, said: ‘Joe turned up for the nice bit to have cuddles! We’re absolutely over the moon and the midwives have been so good with me. The care here at the Royal Gwent Hospital has been amazing – with Joe not being here, they couldn’t have looked after me more.’
Day had missed his side’s first FA Cup match against Middlesbrough with the birth of the twins imminent. But after the drawn game he decided to feature in the replay 10 days later, despite his wife being long overdue.
After the game the goalkeeper ran over to manager Flynn, hugged his boss and was then ushered down the tunnel in a bid to make it to the hospital.
Speaking to BT Sport after the win, Flynn, when asked if Day was kept up to date, said: ‘Look, the professional that he is, he turned his phone off.
‘I didn’t hide it believe it or not. I didn’t hide it, he turned his phone off. As soon as the game was over and we won he said “gaffer thank you so much, can I go please?”
As soon as the full-time whistle went he ran to boss Michael Flynn and asked if he could leave
His team-mates celebrated in the dressing room after setting up a fifth round tie with Man City
Day punches the air hearing the full-time whistle as Newport celebrated a famous FA Cup win
Robbie Willmott (right) and Padraig Amond (left) got the goals in difficult weather conditions
‘I said “of course you can, do you need a lift?” and that was it.’
Newport congratulated the family on the new arrivals, writing on Twitter: ‘A huge congratulations to ‘Keeper Joe Day and his wife Lizzie who gave birth to twins Sophia Grace Day and Emelia Lillie Day last night.
‘Mother Lizzie and the two girls are all healthy and already looking forward to the Fifth Round!’
Social media users praised the goalkeeper’s dedication to his team, claiming it demonstrated ‘the magic of the cup’.
However one woman was not impressed, writing: ‘Wife’s expecting twins and he turned the phone off!?’
Newport’s players and supporters will be celebrating long into the night after adding Championship side Middlesbrough to their list of FA Cup giant-killings.
The League Two side dominated the visitors from start to finish on a difficult playing surface to set-up a home tie against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Day with his son Harrison, now two. The keeper is Newport’s longest-serving player
Fans spoke of their joy at seeing Day running off to be with his family at the end of the game
However, one social media user was surprised that Day decided to play in the circumstances
Other fans praised the goalkeeper’s dedication, and one joked he was ‘barely jogging’
Robbie Willmott put Newport added two minutes into the second half before Padraig Amond, a scorer against Leicester City in round three, doubling the advantage to wrap up a another famous win at Rodney Parade.
Goalkeeper Day is the club’s longest-serving player, joining Newport on loan in August 2014 and making a permanent move in December of the same year.
His previous clubs include Crystal Palace and Peterborough United.
Day and his wife Lizzie also have a son, Harrison, who is two years old.