In his mind, Mason Cox just laughed.
Here he was, a 25-year-old American about to have a shot at goal with his first kick in the AFL, for the first score of the traditional Anzac Day match against Essendon.
When Cox kicked it through, his teammates mobbed him.
Asked post-match if he was nervous about the moment, this time Cox laughed out loud.
“Of course you are – it’s only 85,000 people and you’ve played the game for two years,” he said.
“It’s an unreal experience, it’s amazing what’s happened in my life in the past three or four years.
“It’s a crazy rollercoaster, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Two years ago, his college basketball career was ending and Cox’s belongings had been moved to Houston so he could start an engineering job with ExxonMobil.
Then he accepted an invitation to try out at an AFL scouting combine in the United States.
It did not start well – Cox went on YouTube, given he had never heard about the AFL before.
He described the first video he found “as a whole bunch of guys getting their heads taken off.”
“I was bit worried at that point.”
But Cox persisted, Collingwood recruited him and just 24 games later the ruck-forward made his AFL debut.
“To go out there in the first game and do that is a hell of an experience, a hell of a way to start the career,” he said.
“Hopefully it’s long-lasting.”
Cox, brought in to replace Travis Cloke, showed impressive skills as Collingwood belted Essendon by 69 points.
Coach Nathan Buckley said he would stay in the side for next week’s game against West Coast.
His whole family – parents Phil and Jeanette, plus older brothers Nolan and Austin and their girlfriends – flew out from the United States for Monday’s match.
“The first bounce, (it) gets underway and within two minutes here’s Mason with a mark – I couldn’t believe it,” Phil said.
“And he scores. We were just thrilled. It was just the ultimate thrill.”