Sadio Mane emerged last out of the Southampton dressing room, clutching his match ball and wearing a grin that told of his record-breaking exploits.
Having scored the quickest hat-trick in Premier League history, he could be forgiven for taking his time in the aftermath.
That memento held under his arm, won during two minutes and 56 seconds of remarkable football, will not go into a glass case or be gifted to a museum, however. It belongs on grass.
‘I will play with it at home every day,’ beamed Mane, who was unaware his rapid triple had beaten Robbie Fowler’s previous best of four minutes, 33 seconds set in 1994 until told in post-match interviews.
He knows now. ‘I can say it’s the best moment of my career,’ added 23-year-old Mane, who was just two when Fowler did his stuff for Liverpool.
In less time than it takes to boil an egg or run a mile, Mane took a machete to Villa’s defence, slicing it wide open three times to break a record that stood for 21 years and never looked like being bettered.
Tim Sherwood’s Villa renaissance has been built up over many weeks but was undermined in 176 seconds.
Villa will improve, but so will Mane, signed for £11.8million from Red Bull Salzburg last September.
‘He is a great player and he is still a young player, who will be better next season,’ said Southampton manager Ronald Koeman, who also wants Mane to put his blistering pace to better use. ‘What I’ve talked about now is using that speed with movement.’
Villa were certainly unable to cope with this man in a hurry on Saturday. His first came after a flick-on from Graziano Pelle, his second after a mistake by Ron Vlaar, and his third a superb finish from Shane Long’s pass.
Long added another before scoring a 40-yard stunner. Christian Benteke pulled one back — his 12th goal in 11 games — but Pelle made it six for Saints late on.
Should Villa repeat this performance in the FA Cup final, Arsenal are sure to run riot. Despite the heavy defeat, Villa stayed up and Sherwood will not heavily criticise his players.
‘It won’t be forgotten,’ he said. ‘There are things there we need to learn from,’ he said. ‘But over a period I’ve been at this football club they’ve been magnificent.’
Super stat: Mane’s treble in the first 16 minutes is the earliest hat-trick in a Premier League game (beating Dwight Yorke’s in 22 minutes for Manchester United against Arsenal in 2001).