Pablo Hernandez's Leeds farewell was so close to being the perfect goodbye
It took Pablo Hernandez just six minutes to provide a pass that resulted in Leeds United putting the ball into the back of the net on Sunday.
On that occasion, Jack Harrison’s strike was ruled out with Rodrigo getting involved from an offside position.
It proved to be one of several moments in the 3-1 win over West Brom where Hernandez came agonisingly close to signing off in a way he may have dreamt about following Friday’s announcement that this season would be his and Gaetano Berardi’s last at Leeds.
The 36-year-old pulled the strings for the 70 minutes he spent on the pitch. And he was sung about by the returning fans for the remaining 20 after he had left the stage for the final time.
He won the free-kick that Kalvin Phillips converted for Leeds’s second. And he went on to have more attempts on goal than any other player on the pitch.
Some of the touches were outrageous. Some of the passes could not have been better. And the occasional link ups with Raphinha offered Leeds an agonising glimpse of what may have been.
And of course, there was one final nutmeg.
In truth, it is very difficult to find fault with the final act of El Mago’s Leeds career.
And yet, it is hard to not feel a little disappointed that Hernandez was not given reason to thrash his arms as he jumps into the air one final time.
This is the man who arguably did more than any other single player to get Leeds back into the Premier League.
El Mago leaves the stage with plenty of tricks still up his sleeve
He provided 71 goals or assists in the Championship. And he will forever be remembered for the goal at Swansea that left Leeds poised on the promotion finishing line.
Hernandez will hopefully feel that Sunday could have hardly gone better. His tears after coming off highlight the amazing job his teammates and the fans did to send him out with the reception he deserved.
And yet somehow, there is simply no way that Hernandez would ever be able to fully grasp what he means to the fans.
For completing the comeback against Norwich, for putting one in the top corner after 16 seconds against West Brom, for Swansea, and for every other amazing moment along the way: Thank you, Pablo.