Paul Simpson says Derby County’s upcoming appearance into the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final against Queens Park Rangers is a reward for the players’ efforts this season.
The Rams will take on Harry Redknapp’s Rangers at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 24th May 2014 (3pm) to battle it out for a place in the Premier League next season.
Derby came through the two-legged Semi Final stage with a 6-2 aggregate win over Brighton & Hove Albion while the Hoops saw off Wigan Athletic 2-1 at Loftus Road on Monday, having drawn 0-0 at the DW Stadium a few days beforehand.
After an impressive campaign on the pitch that saw Derby finish with a club record points total, Simpson believes the players’ efforts have been rewarded with the chance to be within touching distance of a place in the top flight of English football.
Derby’s First Team Coach told Rams Player: “We’re delighted to be in the Final and we’re all really looking forward to it.
“The players have been absolutely magnificent and getting to the Final is a reward for them all.
“It’s a reward for all the small sacrifices they have had to make.
“I know it might sound trivial to people in the public but sacrificing their family time and not having a Christmas is something the lads have to do.
“This is also a reward for those days when they’ve been breathing out of their backsides in training and wondering whether it was worth it.
“When they walk out at Wembley next weekend and hear that noise, they’ll know it is worth it.
“It is a day for everybody to really look forward to and in many ways a massive bonus, as we never expected to be in this position when we first arrived.”
Simpson feels that Derby and Rangers meeting in the final ‘sounds about right’ after the sides finished third and fourth respectively.
He believes the game could be ultimately be decided by which side deals with the occasion the best.
Simpson knows the fine line between winning and losing a Play-Off Final in a Derby shirt after experiencing defeat to Leicester City in 1994, but says the coaching staff have absolute faith in the players to do themselves proud on the big stage.
He said: “It’s third taking on fourth in the Final and that sounds about right.
“The league table doesn’t lie and we will see the third best team play the fourth best.
“I hope at full-time at Wembley I can still say the same thing - but what a great game it will be between two very good sides.
“I wouldn’t say the Play-Off Final is a lottery but perhaps who deals with the occasion best.
“There is a nervousness for what is at stake and the atmosphere is incredible.
“However, we know we have good players here and have absolute faith in them to deal with the occasion.
“They have earned the trust we have in them because of the way they have gone about things.
“We’ll prepare them as best we can, wish them luck and send them on their way.”
He added: “We know, on our day, we’re a match for anyone in the Championship.”
Watch more from Paul Simpson in an exclusive Rams Player interview.