JAMES HANSON was stacking shelves in his local supermarket as little as three and a half years ago, but on Tuesday he headed the goal which made history and sent Bradford to the Capital One Cup final at Wembley.
The 25-year-old levelled matters early in the second half of the semi-final second leg at Aston Villa and although the hosts went on to triumph 2-1, it was Hanson’s crucial goal which ensured the Bantams progressed 4-3 on aggregate.
In turn, Bradford became the first fourth tier team to reach a major cup final at Wembley as they clinched a place in their first showpiece final since 1911.
Yet it could so easily have been a different story for 6ft 4in Bradford-born striker Hanson, who admits he had almost given up on playing on the big stage when he was pacing the aisles of his nearby Cooperative supermarket.
‘‘Three years ago I was working in the Co-op while playing for Guiseley, so it’s days like this why you want to be a professional. Thankfully all the hard work I’ve put in has been amazing,’’ he said.
‘‘I think I was just enjoying playing non-league and scoring goals.
“You get paid quite good money and I was working as well, it was quite a good lifestyle.
‘‘But you always want to play as high as you can and thankfully Stuart McCall (then manager) at Bradford gave me a chance and I’ve not looked back since.”
However Hanson might not have been seen in the store yesterday as he picked up the newspapers to read about Bradford’s success.
‘‘I still go in and show my face because it’s my local one.
I try to go to Morrisons (though) because it’s quite expensive there,’’ he joked.