Fulham defender Cyrus Christie says he and his teammates used smack-talk from Brentford in the build-up to their Championship play-off final as extra motivation.
The Republic of Ireland international came off the bench in extra-time as the Cottagers secured a 2-1 win over their London rivals to earn a place in next season's Premier League.
"For us building up," he explained on OTB AM, "a lot of us were watching The Last Dance and playing clips, and for our manager that was something he could relate to in terms of the psychological aspect."
Following the best practice of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s, Christie and Fulham even found inspiration in what they believed was a bit too much talking from the Brentford players in the build-up.
"As a team we performed really well and the tactics were spot on," he explained. "So, we went into the game super-confident.
"We were quiet, we were humble, and I believe Brentford did a lot of talking in the press leading up to the game. I think that kind of gave us the extra edge as well, we used that as added motivation, not that we actually needed any.
"For us it was added motivation, we picked up on it straight away and other people were telling us about it. They obviously said that we would fear them because they had won the two previous games.
"We were confident and knew we had prepared properly and done the job right, and we knew the occasion was there for us. We've got big players that love big occasions, and we rose to that.
"Joe Bryan was the main man and the hero for that game which was fantastic for him, because he's a wonderful player and he's a fantastic guy. He's properly come under a bit of criticism, a bit of stick, for probably no reason really at all. For him to take that moment, it was fantastic to see."
Did someone say 2 timessssssssss 🙌🏾 What a season and what a journey it’s been. @joebryan delighted for you brother you earned that moment. We are back in the Premier league. Massive shoutout to the fans who stuck with us through the good and the bad times. Enjoy the celebrations pic.twitter.com/ixqlIRADrK
— Cyrus Christie (@cyruschristie) August 5, 2020
For Scott Parker's side, the 2-1 defeat of Brentford in a cavernous Wembley stadium means Fulham will be competing in the Premier League next season.
A tantalising prospect for Christie and his teammates, he believes that they already demonstrated a good degree of their experience in the play-off final. It may stand them in good stead next season.
"Anything can happen when it comes to the play-offs in a one-off game," he admitted. "They did a lot of talking, and it was added motivation for us. But at the end of the day we knew the biggest prize was on the line, and we knew we could go down in the history books at Fulham with another promotion.
"It obviously is a super tense occasion. It makes it a bit different with there being no fans, but as the game goes on, every kind of half-chance people get nervous. Especially when you're sitting in the stands, it's a completely different game.
The clock's ticking by, and you're thinking, when is this going to end? I believe we were the strongest team throughout in that game and I believe we played the best game, and I wouldn't say they had many clear-cut chances really."
— Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) August 10, 2020
Cyrus also spoke about his experiences of racism in football, and the excitement around the Stephen Kenny era at international level. You can watch it back on our YouTube channel or listen back through the OTB AM podcast stream.