Swindon Town Boss Mark Cooper will take charge of the biggest game of his managerial career this evening as he bids to make history and complete what would be a “sensational achievement.”
Tipped by many for relegation back in the summer, Town have stunned and silenced their critics all season as they challenged for automatic promotion to the Championship.
Playing what some would describe as the best brand of attacking football in the Football League, the Robins clinched fourth-place to secure their highest league finish since the 1999/2000 campaign.
And Swindon now find themselves just one game away from the Championship as they prepare to take on Preston North End in the League One Play-Off Final at Wembley this afternoon – their third outing at the home of English football since 2010.
By far the biggest game in his still very young career as a manager, Cooper has more than enough confidence in his players to rise to the big occasion and help create a slice of history that the town of Swindon can be proud of for years to come.
“It will be the biggest game (of his career) with what is at stake,” Cooper told FLIC SPORT.
“We’ve done brilliant to get here and I don’t think, hand on heart, people would have said we would get anywhere near it, but we have and we’re one game away.
“We’ve got a one game shootout to get into the Championship.
“If you would have offered that to us at the start of the season then we would have snapped your hand off.
“We’ve got a group of young players that – the way they play – are confident and they’ve got a lot of energy – that breeds the confidence and they’re not really too scared of any occasion or anything.
“I think that can make us dangerous.
“It would be huge (to take the club into the championship) and it would be a sensational achievement for everybody at the football club to do it.
“It makes a difference financially and everything – training facilities, the academy – it makes such a difference.
“It would be an amazing achievement and one that all of us would be really proud of.”
Cooper is no stranger to Wembley having led former club Darlington to FA Trophy glory there in 2011, and the Town Manager revealed to FLIC SPORT what his final bit of advice to his team will be tonight before they take to the field.
“It’s just stressing that you’ve got to play the game – just play the game and don’t get too wrapped up in all of the stuff going on around you and waving at your parents,” added Cooper.
“Just concentrate on the game and play the game and not the occasion – that’s the biggest bit of advice I can give.
“You’ve got to enjoy it because it might never happen again.
“You’ve got to enjoy it, you’ve got to embrace it but you have to remain focused and concentrate on the task at hand.”