Defender Calum Woods forced his way back into Simon Grayson’s starting XI just in time to make history as one of Preston North End’s Wembley heroes.
The versatile full-back replaced left-back Scott Laird for the last two matches, as North End dispatched Chesterfield and thumped Swindon in the League One play-off final.
Before getting the nod in the second leg at Deepdale, Woods’ last start was against Gillingham in April.
The Liverpudlian had been in and out of the side all season, with Ben Davies, Chris Humphrey, Laird, Tom Clarke, Scott Wiseman and David Buchanan all featuring as either left-back, right-back or a wing-back.
With fellow full-back competitors Wiseman and Buchanan shown the door last week, and Grayson yet to dip into the transfer market, Woods was delighted to have forced his way back into contention.
He said: “I had a few injuries during the season and it was hard to get back in at times because the lads were playing really well.
“Whoever has been at right or left-back this season has done really well.
“It was just one of those things – I got the chance to play at Wembley and I’m just delighted that I did.”
It is almost a year since Woods secured a two-year deal at Deepdale and teamed up with former Huddersfield boss Grayson once again.
After his shock release from the Terriers, Woods crossed the Pennines to join PNE.
He said: “Everyone at the club has been brilliant with me.
“I obviously knew the staff and some of the people here before I signed, after working with them at Huddersfield in the past. So it has made it easier to settle and I think I’ve settled in really well.”
And he hailed the fans for their part in North End’s Wembley win. More than 22,000 PNE fans made the trip to the capital and Woods dedicated the win to them for their incredible support throughout the campaign.
He said: “The fans have been brilliant all season – home and away, they get behind us. They deserve it as much as we do. The loss at Colchester on the final day of the season was disappointing for everyone.
“We know ourselves what we felt and so we wanted to put it right, for us and for the fans.
“We were delighted to do that. I think everyone here is enjoying their football.”