Paul Cook hailed the ‘unbelievable’ talent of Lee Evans after the Wigan Athletic midfielder celebrated his recall to the Wales squad with a breathtaking winning goal against Crawley.
Evans has gone from zero to hero in recent weeks, having dragged himself back into the manager’s good books following his sending-off at Scunthorpe last month.
But the gasps from the crowd that followed his 35-yard strike that finally cracked the resistance of League Two Crawley on Saturday showed exactly why Cook was so desperate to lure in from Wolves on a season-long loan.
“We’re so pleased for Lee,” acknowledged the Latics boss. “Since he got sent off at Scunthorpe, he’s been a little bit down.
“He wasn’t at his best in the Checkatrade Trophy game here the other week, but he is a perfect example of a confidence player.
“The talent he has in him is unbelievable - he just has to believe in himself more.
“He was picked for this game as part of that process, to give him more confidence, and he’s obviously repaid that.
“I personally think that side of the game - confidence - is so under-rated.
“The best players in the world have that confidence, that arrogance, and a lot of players would do well to try and match that belief.
“The flair players have the hardest job of the lot, especially when you come up against a lot of defenders like we did against Crawley.
“You’re then looking for a moment of magic to unlock the door, and Lee is someone who has that in his locker.”
All three goals on the day - including Jordan Roberts’ opener for Crawley and Ivan Toney’s equaliser - were right out of the top drawer, but Evans’ wonder-strike will possibly not be bettered all season.
“Lee is undoubtedly one of the best strikers of the ball at the club,” Cook enthused.
“You look at his goal against Bury, and that was very similar.
“The way we play, sometimes our midfielders are a little bit deep to do that.
“But we do try to get certain men further forward, and that’s what can happen.”
Evans will now join up with the Wales squad after being recalled, following an injury to ex-Latics midfielder Emyr Huws.
The call-up means Wigan’s League One trip to Rochdale has now been postponed.
Sam Morsy (Egypt), Owen Evans (Wales Under-21s) and Matija Sarkic (Montenegro Under-21s) are also away on international duty.