Southend United boss Phil Brown says Michael Timlin's performance in their play-off win over Stevenage is the "bravest" he's ever seen as a manager.
Timlin, 30, sealed a play-off final tie against Wycombe with the third goal in the Shrimpers' 3-1 extra-time victory.
It came after he needed 15 stitches for a head wound suffered in the first-leg.
"I have made some big decisions in my life football-wise and that's probably the biggest, Michael Timlin to play," Brown told BBC Essex.
"On Sunday he went in for that horrific challenge and their captain's laid out.
"In the 90th minute here he went into another header with a skullcap on.
"It was just the bravest performance I've seen from an individual in my managerial time."
Former Swindon and Fulham midfielder Timlin is out of contract at the end of the season, but Brown said he would attempt to keep the London-born player at the club.
"He's already been approached by one or two football clubs to leave this place," Brown added.
"And did he show that? He didn't - he showed that he wanted a contract at this football club.
"And I'll be knocking at the door of the chairman to get that contract because of the way he's performed in the last two games."