Bradford City defender Andrew Davies took one last glance as he left the Wembley dressing room in February and vowed to himself: I’ll be back.
The impressive City centre half made a personal promise that the 5-0 Capital One Cup final thrashing at the hands of Swansea City was not going to be his last appearance at the hallowed stadium.
As he prepares to return three months on for what he calls the “biggest game in his career” agains the Cobblers in the npower League Two play-off final this afternoon (ko 1.30pm), the 28-year-old insisted he never doubted that would happen.
Davies said: “People were saying to get used to the surroundings at Wembley because we’re going to go back. But I really did believe it because of the squad we’ve got.
“We have players who have been in the Premier League, a gaffer who managed in the Championship, Nick Allamby, the fitness coach with Middlesbrough in the top leagues, and these fans.
“I’m not just saying it but they are the best fans I’ve ever played for – and that includes the clubs I was at in the Premier League.
“They’ve driven us on so well and that’s shown in the results we’ve got.
“People talk about taking one game at a time but I looked further ahead to what the end result could be. I just wanted to go back to Wembley so much.
“It’s such a massive stadium and you’ve got your friends and family watching. I also want to put things right after what happened against Swansea.
“That’s why I was fully determined we’d get back there and do this and make sure this really is an unbelievable season.”
Davies has played 15 times since four months out with knee ligament damage – and believes those performances have answered any questions of him being injury prone.
“When I got injured, people were saying ‘here we go again’. They talk about the injuries but I keep coming back,” said Davies.
“I had the determination that I owed something to the club and manager for the faith they’ve put in me.
“There’s no ‘I’ in team but I’d like to think that the games I’ve played since have helped get us into the play-offs.
“It’s been a rollercoaster for myself and the lads. There have been lots of ups and downs this year and it’s been a long, hard season.
“But we all had a little inner belief that if we do the right things that the manager wants and win our individual battles, then we can beat anyone.
“The fact we’re still going is full credit to the manager, staff, fans and everyone. We’re all in it together.”
Davies has played on some of football’s grandest stages, including Rome’s Olympic Stadium in the UEFA Cup for Middlesbrough. But this will top everything.
“It’s the biggest of my career,” he added. “People will say it’s only League Two but we’ve all worked so hard to get to this stage.
“We’ve come back from defeats and when people have criticised. I’m proud of myself and proud of the lads that we’re still fighting to get over that last hurdle.”