Dominic Calvert-Lewin hailed the game-changing influence of Evertonians following the stunning victory over Crystal Palace that secured Premier League survival for Frank Lampard’s team.
Striker Calvert-Lewin capped a gripping comeback, flying through the air to head home Demarai Gray's 85th-minute free-kick and spark pandemonium at an elated Goodison Park.
“The biggest weight in the world has been lifted,” said Calvert-Lewin, whose thoughts were echoed by Michael Keane, the centre-back whose centre-forward’s finish after 54 minutes laid the platform for a grandstand conclusion.
Keane reflected on an “incredible” climax to the campaign, caveating that view with an acknowledgement Everton should not have found themselves in peril at the foot of the table.
Calvert-Lewin and Keane’s goals sandwiched an equaliser for Richarlison, which essentially completed a momentum swing that the England attacker confirmed with his thrilling headed goal.
“Words can’t describe the feeling of that goal,” said Calvert-Lewin.
“The biggest weight in the world has been lifted.
“The support has been unbelievable, the way they’ve welcomed us to the ground, with blue flares everywhere, it’s been an incredible experience.
“When we got the first goal, the fans made the difference, for me.
“I always give 100 per cent and today showed that.
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CALVERT-LEWIN & KEANE REACT TO INCREDIBLE FINISH
“I am just pleased to make the difference in the end.
“What a rollercoaster football is – it is why we love the game and fans love the game.
“In an ideal situation, we wouldn’t be in the position we were, but it produces moments like that – you can go from low to high so quickly.
“I don’ think I’ll sleep tonight.
“The pressure on us, going 2-0 down, to get to 2-2, I had a feeling we would nick another one.
“I made sure I was in the right area, and it was an incredible experience.”
The inclusion of Keane was the lone change from Sunday’s meeting with Brentford.
He featured in a half-time change of system, flexing into a central defensive partnership with Mason Holgate after Everton employed a back three for the opening 45 minutes.
And Holgate and Keane combined for the hosts’ first goal, the latter expertly converting after gathering his colleague’s header back into the middle.
Everton completed the turnaround courtesy of two goals inside 10 minutes following Richarlison’s 75th-minute leveller.
And Keane insists the nature of Everton’s win was reflective of the spirit and desire of a group of players who “care about this club more than anything in the world”.
“The first half was tough,” began Keane, “they were getting away from our press quite well and scored two avoidable goals.
“We spoke at half-time about keeping belief and getting the next goal and we did it quickly, the fans got right behind us, which makes a huge difference.
“Then Richy scored and I felt we would get one more chance and Dom took it.
“We had to get a goal early to give ourselves a chance, it wasn’t going to come easy because they are a good team.
“But we knew if we got one, the fans would make a difference, we’d put them under pressure, and when our chances came, we took them.”
Keane, who has played 185 games for the Club since a summer 2017 move from Burnley, shared Calvert-Lewin’s overriding emotion following Everton’s survival, fewer than three weeks after slipping five points behind 17th-placed Burnley.
“It is relief,” added Keane. “It’s been a long and hard season, [we were] feeling pressure where we were in the table and knowing we shouldn’t have been there.
“But to finish like we have in the past six weeks, the lads deserve massive credit, the fans deserve massive credit and so do the manager and staff.
“It’s been incredible.
“People have questioned our mentality and how much we care, which hurt us.
“We care about this club more than anything in the world.
“We know we’ve let the fans down a lot of times this season.
“But something like that tonight, you can see what it meant to the players.
“It is huge. We did not want to take this club down. It is a massive relief.”