Fulham left-back Joe Bryan has played down his influence and insists he is ‘not the hero’ despite scoring two as the Cottagers secured promotion in Tuesday night’s Championship play-off final.
The former Bristol City man broke the deadlock in extra time. He caught Brentford keeper David Raya out with an audacious 35-yard free-kick, before sealing the win and his first ever professional brace just three minutes from time.
The game was far from spectacular in 90 minutes. Fulham dominated the ball but neither side really threatened a break-through.
Bryan proved to be the match winner in extra time though. He told Sky Sports: “I’m not the hero, every single one of them, fans and people around us who has been with us all season is.”
Bryan continued: “We’ve been written off five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 times, I think I read somewhere we were supposed to be scared of them.
“We took it to them, we scored twice, they made it hard for us but they’re a good team and they’ve been playing really well.
“I can’t believe we made it straight back up.”
Bryan’s free-kick appeared to be a moment of pure, instinctive brilliance but Scott Parker later revealed that it is something Fulham had spotted and planned to exploit.
Parker said: “We did our due diligence on the keeper and he has an aggressive high starting position from wide free kicks.
“We looked at it, brought it up in a set-play meeting this afternoon and spoke to Joe and Harrison Reed, who would have been on the opposite side.
Captain Cairney hails Fulham spirit
Fulham skipper Tom Cairney also insisted Parker’s side went under the radar in the promotion race.
“I can’t put it into words. It feels special. We got written off a bit this year, no one talked about us, they talked about Brentford and Leeds,” he told Sky Sports.
“It shows the spirit in the dressing room, not many teams bounce back up. I knew we had that performance in us, all season when we needed to win we’ve done it when it mattered.
“Brentford are a great side, a pleasure to watch and these were the two best sides in the Championship play-off final.”