West Bromwich Albion striker Jay Rodriguez said the “truth always comes out” after a charge he racially abused Brighton’s Gaetan Bong was found to be not proven by the Football Association.
The incident involving Cameroon international Bong took place during a Premier League game on 13 January.
“It’s been extremely difficult for me and my family on a serious allegation and subject,” Rodriguez, 28, said.
Rodriguez scored Albion’s winner against Manchester United on Sunday.
The Baggies’ 1-0 win meant Manchester City became Premier League champions, boosted bottom-of-the-table Albion’s slim chances of avoiding relegation. They are now nine points from safety with just four games remaining, starting with Liverpool’s visit to The Hawthorns this Saturday.
Rodriguez spoke of his relief at the result and the FA verdict on his case.
“I am always a great believer that the truth always comes out and it has,” he told BBC WM. “Now we can move on and I can just carry on working hard for the team.”
England international Rodriguez scored his 11th goal of the season when the home side failed to clear Chris Brunt’s corner.
“It’s amazing,” said the former Southampton forward. “You always dream as a young lad to come here and score and to get the winner against a great side at a great stadium was really good.
“At the end we were knackered. We worked our socks off and created a lot of chances and we definitely deserved the win.
“I have never not believed. We need to believe still – especially coming here and showing that – we can go and beat anyone. We need to keep that between us and keep working.”
Of the 11 goals scored by Albion’s Burnley-born top scorer this season, more have come in his native North West than he has managed in the Midlands.
Rodriguez has scored at Accrington (in the Carabao Cup), Everton, Liverpool (twice, in the FA Cup) and now at Old Trafford too, compared to his four goals at The Hawthorns.
Jay Rodriguez was talking to BBC WM’s Rob Gurney.