The Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson said tonight that his players had made history after the League Two club eliminated Aston Villa to reach Capital One Cup final – the first time a team from English football’s fourth tier have made a major cup final in more than 50 years.
Parkinson's side lost 2-1 on the night at Villa Park, triumphing 4-3 on aggregate, and the Bradford manager said that his players' achievement stood comparison with the greatest moment in the club's history, the 1911 FA Cup final triumph. Not since Rochdale reached the League Cup in a two-legged final in 1962 have a team from the bottom professional division made it to a major cup final.
"I said to the lads that this was a chance to make history," Parkinson said. "These players will be remembered in the history of the club. At Valley Parade there is a '1911 Lounge' named after the FA Cup win and in years to come there will be a lounge named after these players for what they have achieved in this cup run.
"A lot of managers never get a chance to take a team to Wembley. It is a dream. We will savour every minute of it. In terms of tickets, Bradford would be able to sell-out the stadium twice over."
Villa were the third Premier League side that Bradford have eliminated after Wigan Athletic and Arsenal in the two previous rounds. Parkinson's team, whose goal was scored by striker James Hanson, will face either Swansea City or Chelsea, who play their semi-final second leg tomorrow night, at Wembley on 24 February.
"Financially the money we have earned from this cup run has been fantastic," Parkinson added. "To go to Wembley will keep the club going for a while. For the city of Bradford it is massive. It has galvanised the area. There hasn't been a lot to celebrate being a Bradford supporter in the last 10 years but they have stuck with is over tough times.'
Paul Lambert, the Villa manager, said he was "absolutely gutted and hurt" by the elimination despite goals from Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann. "We are every bit as hurt as they [the fans] are," he said. "It's my responsibility. I know exactly what it is like [for the fans]. Once they [Bradford] scored the edginess came into our game and we started to play long balls. We don't have the players to play the long ball."
He added: "There's two ways we can react. You either lie down and accept it or come out fighting. We are certainly not going to lie down. I will come out fighting." Asked whether he was still the right man to lead the club, he replied: "Absolutely, I do, but when you ask a manager they always tell you they will get on with it."