Norwich City midfielder Gary O’Neil targets a Wembley treble

Norwich City midfielder Gary O'Neil was red-carded for hauling down Derby's Johnny Russell in last s

Norwich City midfielder Gary O'Neil was red-carded for hauling down Derby's Johnny Russell in last season's Championship play-off final. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Gary O'Neil aims to be Norwich City's lucky charm in next week's Championship play-off final against old club Middlesbrough at Wembley.

The 32-year-old midfielder is a serial promotion winner after previous successful second tier campaigns with Portsmouth, West Ham and last season QPR.

O'Neil knows all about the unique experience of winning a Wembley play-off final and brings an unblemished record to the home of football as part of Alex Neil's squad.

'I've never lost when I've played there, and I imagine it's not great to go home as a loser. Hopefully I won't find out,' he said. 'With West Ham we went there as favourites and just managed to get over the line.

'Last year we were probably just about the underdogs with Derby going well, and we knew how the game was going to go.


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'We went 4-4-2, and they had an extra man in midfield, so they were going to dominate possession. With two strikers on the pitch, we hoped we'd get a chance and we did.

'The lads here have been involved in big games before so we'll make sure we're ready and fully prepared. Once you've been involved in Premier League matches, this isn't massively different. Obviously it's a lot more intense on the day with the whole season riding on it. It's important you don't get caught up in how much it means because it can definitely affect your performance.'

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O'Neil made 109 league appearances for the Teessiders in a four-year spell after a £5m move from Pompey in August 2007.

The central midfielder, speaking to the club's official site, is under no illusions Norwich must be at their best to prevail.

'They've had a good season, and are a good side who are strong defensively. They don't score many goals but have beaten us twice this year, so hopefully it's our turn,' he said. 'There's no extra motivation needed because the hard work of a whole season is riding on 90 minutes. We all want to be in the Premier League.

'They'll have the exact same aims as us. Hopefully we can come out on top. It's going to be a fantastic atmosphere because it's a great day for the fans.

'There will be an intense feel to it, but the lads will be fine. It's going to be tough, but we've got 90 minutes to get to where we want to be.'

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