Scott Parker was delighted Fulham’s due diligence on Brentford paid off to earn them a 2-1 victory after extra-time of the Sky Bet Championship play-off final and promotion to the Premier League.
Left-back Joe Bryan struck a brace at Wembley to help the Whites seal an instant return to the top flight and clinch bragging rights over their west London rivals.
The defender stunned Bees goalkeeper David Raya in the 105th minute when his 35-yard free-kick caught out the Spanish stopper at his near post.
It was the breakthrough this nervy and tense derby needed and while he struck again, before Henrik Dalsgaard pulled one back for Brentford, it was the opener which proved decisive in the hunt to join Leeds and West Brom in the Premier League.
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.
“I felt when we brought Mitro (Aleksandar Mitrovic) on, Joe was going to cross the ball because one of Mitro’s biggest attributes is heading.
“I called him over but I didn’t want to try and let on to Brentford’s bench and their players so tried to bluff it and just said to Joe ‘listen I want you to go for it, commit to it and really give it a go and let’s see what happens’.
“Thankfully it has gone in, executed well and he has an unbelievable left-foot.”
Eight years ago Parker captained England at Wembley in a friendly against the Netherlands, but he ranks this promotion in his first full season in management as the proudest moment of his career.
PLAY-OFF WIN PARKER’S PROUDEST MOMENT
Fulham’s win over local rivals Brentford has earned them £135million in revenue over the next three years and makes the tough points of the 2019-20 campaign worthwhile for the 39-year-old.
“Yes it is my proudest moment by a long way,” Parker added.
“I think why I am so proud is I am proud of the players and the team because I have seen the team grow along the journey which has been tough this year.
“I front it on the side and the players are the same and they go out and play, but underneath there is a support mechanism and who I am speaking about is family and close friends and it will be the same for the players.
“I am probably proud and emotional for them because at times this year it has been very tough and difficult.”
FRANK HAILS BRENTFORD PROGRESS
Brentford head coach Thomas Frank paid tribute to opposite number Parker and admitted it was a game of fine margins.
“First I would like to say congratulations to Fulham, Scott Parker and his coaching staff and everyone at Fulham,” he said.
“They are in the Prem and I wish them the best of luck. It is tough when you lose in a final in a very, very tight game, but I am extremely proud of my players and this club and all we have achieved.
“We have gone from a mid-table club to a team who were the third best team and we played three teams who either directly came down from the Premier League last year or two years ago.
“I think we are very fine margins away from the Premier League which is an incredible achievement by us so I can’t praise my players and my staff enough, but this is football you don’t always get what you deserve.”