Phillip Cocu described himself as proud of both his players and Derby County’s supporters following the thrilling 3-2 victory over Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon.
There has been no hiding that it has been a challenging week for the club off the pitch, but the Rams secured their first home victory of the campaign in impressive fashion to lift everyone’s spirits.
Striker Chris Martin opened the scoring early on before Martyn Waghorn’s well-taken finish doubled Derby’s lead after half-time.
Gary Gardner's header and then a superb Ivan Sunjic strike soon afterwards saw Birmingham get back on level terms before the hour mark.
Goalkeeper Kelle Roos then produced a superb penalty save from Lukas Jutkiewicz in what proved to be a big turning point in the contest.
Jamie Paterson, making his league start for the Rams, secured what turned out to the winner six minutes later with a composed finish after being played clear by Jack Marriott.
Cocu was quick to praise his players for the character they displayed in testing circumstances - while he also thanked the club’s fans for their backing throughout the 90 minutes.
He told RamsTV: “If you watch a game of football, you would want to see this type of game as a fan or anyone who has a passion for football because it was all there.
“We made a very good start, and that really was what we focused on, and then we managed to get the second goal to make it 2-0. We have struggled in many games this season to get the second goal, but in six minutes after getting it this time the game changed completely.
“After we conceded the first goal, followed by the second soon after, we struggled a lot and were maybe a little bit nervous.
“After the penalty save, which was a great save by Kelle Roos, it seemed like the switch went again the other way. We have to play football; we have to dominate on the ball and they did in a fantastic way.
“It was a good mental strength to come back again after the equaliser and get a great win. It was a fantastic finish by Jamie Paterson. I am proud of the team today because the only way the team can respond to the last week is on the pitch.”
He added: “They showed great character and the fans supported the team like in any other game so thanks a lot to all the fans that backed up the team.
“They stood up because sometimes it can be the boost that the team needs to pick up the game again and take the win. In the end it was a great football day for us and a very important win.”
Cocu admitted he didn’t have to say too much to his players in the lead-up to kick-off.
He felt it was important that his side showed a response and unity on the pitch and secure a much-needed three points on home turf.
Now, with a trip to Barnsley up next on Wednesday, the manager his keen for his side to build up some momentum ahead of the October international break.
He said: “Today I spoke not so much to the players beforehand because the last few days from Wednesday onwards we have had a lot of meetings, both individually and as a group, all together again.
“Sometimes you forget you have to play the game of football.
“We just had a meeting today and I showed the players a motivating clip of a young American Football player after a game.
“For me, that said it all about the game we play, how you live it together as a team and then you don’t need to talk.
“The players know what is at stake, what they have to show and the only response the team can show is on the pitch and they did. We have to deliver again on Wednesday at Barnsley, it cannot be one game.”