NIGEL Clough has hailed the achievement of Matt Duke and his Bradford City team-mates in reaching the final of the Carling Cup.
Ex-Burton Albion stopper Duke has been instrumental in the Bantams’ run to the final, which has seen them dispatch Premier League sides Arsenal and Aston Villa in the quarter- and semi-finals respectively.
However, things could have been so much different, with the Brewers themselves having been on the cusp of progress back in the second round when they were 2-0 up at Valley Parade going into the 83rd minute, only to lose 3-2 in extra-time.
Clough said: “I daren’t mention that to (Albion chairman) Ben Robinson, because it could have been them.
“But that’s what you need, that little break in cups.
“They were on the verge of being out, and then they come back in extra-time and go on.
“It’ll be an incredible day for them.
“It’s fairytale stuff, going to Wembley.
“Bradford could even find themselves in Europe, although that’s a side issue.”
And Clough had nothing but kind words for Duke, who he brought to Burton back in 2000.
He said: “It’s great for him.
“We know him from the days at Burton, where we took him from Sheffield United and he was a big part in winning the league.
“Then he went on to Hull and played in the Premier League, and this is a bit of a swansong for him.
“We saw him up at St George’s Park before the game, which was lovely, and you could sense that they thought they had a good chance.
“It’s brilliant when you know the people and hopefully Matt now has the chance to play at Wembley.
“He’s a great professional, and he hasn’t played a lot for one reason or another, and I think that’s helped him.
“He looks fresh, he’s experienced now, and as goalkeepers mature they make better decisions.
“I think he’s as good now as ever.”