GARY Rowett has told his Burton Albion players to enjoy the Wembley experience – but that the opportunity is greater than the occasion.
The Brewers boss is bursting with pride at leading out a team at the home of football for the first time.
As a player, Rowett never made it to Wembley, so it will be a new experience for him on Monday.
And he wants the players to embrace it, while focusing on beating Fleetwood and reaching League One.
“I said to the players that for one or two of you who’ve been in the play-offs last year and this year, don’t think this is going to happen all the time,” he said.
“I’ve been in the game for 24 years and I’ve never taken a team to Wembley – as a player, coach or manager.
“It’s not an easy thing to achieve.
“You have to embrace it because these things don’t happen very often.
“That’s the key focus for me.
“I’ve now got to distinguish for them between what’s an occasion and what’s an opportunity.
“It’s an occasion for everyone around the team, and you would never take that away from them.
“For the players it’s an opportunity to go one stage further.
“It’s a fantastic chance to win a game and go the extra yard.”
Rowett has been confident of Albion’s chances since they lost to Bradford last season with Wembley almost within touching distance.
A few eyebrows were raised as teams normally suffer a hangover following such a disappointment.
Indeed, Cheltenham have had a season to forget, while Northampton flirted with relegation for most of the season before eventually staying in the big time.
“After the game with Bradford last year I said this team could go one step further and get promoted,” said Rowett.
“It wasn’t hot air, I wasn’t trying to spin it for the players or the fans – I genuinely believed it.
“We’ve worked all season and all summer for that, so we aren’t going to take the game lightly.”
Albion were written off by the bookies at the start of the play-off campaign, but have fought back to reach Wembley.
They have done it in adversity, with injuries ruling out Damien McCrory, Zeli Ismail and Jimmy Phillips, while Ian Sharps was sent off in the first leg and misses the final.
Rowett is happy his men are seen as plucky underdogs for a place in League One.
“What’s been great for us is we’ve almost been written off since the start of the season,” he said.
“One of the media outlets interviewed a player this week and said they were really looking forward to the game between Fleetwood and Southend at Wembley!
“We’ve been disregarded enough. We know we’re the underdogs. Fleetwood have spent a lot of money and were one of our favourites to go up automatically this season.
“So, we know we’re the underdogs and have been all the way through and I think that galvanises the players and the staff and people around the club even more.
“It makes you more determined to win the game.”
Fleetwood, who have risen even more meteorically than Albion, pose a big threat to the Brewers’ dreams.
It will be the seventh time the sides have met in two seasons and Rowett says both camps will take confidence from previous meetings.
“They’re a good side and I’ve got a lot of respect for (manager) Graham (Alexander),” he said.
“I really like Graham and text him straight after the play-off game on Sunday and asked him what he’d be wearing so we don’t clash!
“He’s a good guy and there certainly won’t be any animosity on the sidelines.
“We know they’re a good team – we played them four times this season, beat them twice, drew one and lost one.
“We know we can beat them, they know they can beat us, it’s as simple as that.
“It’ll be who handles the day and who does not fall for the occasion as much and makes sure they get the job done.
“We won’t know that until Monday.”