Burton boss Gary Rowett felt his side had triumphed against the odds after they sank Southend in a dramatic play-off semi-final at Roots Hall.
The Brewers secured a trip to Wembley thanks to a second-half winner from Adam McGurk which secured a 2-2 draw on the day and a 3-2 aggregate success.
"We have lost five or six players to injury and suspension, and yesterday the team bus broke down before we set off," said Rowett.
"I couldn't tell you the things we have had to deal with over the last two weeks.
"But sometimes out of adversity comes triumph and we have used that as much as we could.
"The players deserve a shot at Wembley and I'm really pleased for them. The lads are bouncing around drinking champagne but I'm exhausted!"
McGurk's goal separated the sides after the first leg and Burton doubled their advantage early on through a header from Marcus Holness.
Phil Brown's Shrimpers hit back through Ryan Leonard's stunning overhead kick and Anthony Straker's header to level the tie.
But in the 69th minute Southend failed to deal with a Chris Hussey free-kick and the ball ricocheted to the feet of McGurk, who was able to turn and sweep the ball home for his 12th goal of the season.
"It was an amazing game," added Rowett, whose side now face Fleetwood for a place in League One a week on Monday.
"We had a slender lead and to score early on was fantastic, but to then concede two goals, I had to remind the players at half-time to be a bit more ambitious.
"We steadied the ship and then the goal went in and we had a few scary moments at the end.
"To show the character we did sums up our season. We haven't got the quality of some teams in this division, but we have as much heart as any team."
A disappointed Brown missed out on a return to Wembley, where he enjoyed his finest moment by guiding Hull to the Premier League via the play-offs in 2008.
His mood at the end was in stark contrast to his bullish programme notes, in which he wrote 'Today is our day. See you all at Wembley next week'.
"That's life," shrugged Brown afterwards. "It's not arrogance, there were two teams fighting to play at Wembley and it was a rallying cry, and the fans didn't half turn up.
"We are bemoaning our fortune in front of goal but next year we'll be stronger for it. Whoever invented the play-offs was not a manager, that's for certain."