Frank Lampard insists his Derby County side are happy to go into the Championship play-off final against Aston Villa as underdogs.
The Rams staged a thrilling comeback to deny Leeds United at Elland Road on Wednesday evening and book their spot in football’s so-called ‘richest’ game.
Lampard’s first season as a manager will end at Wembley with a chance to steer Derby into the Premier League, with former Chelsea teammate John Terry in the Villa dugout opposite him as assistant to Dean Smith.
Substitute Jack Marriott was the hero as Derby came from a goal down on the night and 2-0 in the tie overall to stun Leeds. Having scored on the stroke of half-time with his first touch, Marriott slotted home in the second half to seal the comeback.
Mason Mount and a Harry Wilson penalty also helped during a game where both sides finished with 10 men. For Lampard, it was a dream come true to lead his troops to Wembley, with the pressure to get there having weighed heavily on the inexperienced boss.
“I’d be naive to say I totally believed we could come back but I had belief in the players,” Lampard said afterwards.
“As a manager, the pressure is more intense than as a player. I wanted this so badly, you worry you want it too badly. I’m very proud.
“I told Jack Marriott I thought he could have an impact in the game because he was disappointed not to be starting. “We’ll be underdogs in the final and tomorrow we start again.”
Derby are indeed underdogs at 2.25 to earn promotion, with Villa favourites at 1.62.