Conor Coady has urged Wolves to make sure they have no Wembley regrets tomorrow after admitting he felt ‘horrible’ as an FA Cup semi-final loser.
The Wolves captain is the only player in the current squad who has reached the last four of the competition before, with Sheffield United in 2014.
The Blades, then in League One, went down 5-3 to Hull, who were in the Premier League at the time, after leading 2-1 at half-time.
Wolves take on Watford for a place in the final this weekend and Coady doesn’t want to experience that sinking feeling again.
“It was horrible. We came in after the game and it was a horrible feeling knowing you were there and that close to an FA Cup final,” said the skipper.
“No one was really expecting much of us because we were a League One club at Sheffield United, and at half-time we were 2-1 up and we were all sat in the changing room at half-time kind of laughing.
“If we had got into the final, we would have gone into Europe, so you’re thinking ‘League One club in Europe’ and we were all sat there having a bit of a laugh about it.
“But we were really close to doing it. We need to make sure we put on a good performance because we need to make sure we don’t have those same regrets on Sunday.”
Tuesday’s 2-1 win against Manchester United has restored the feelgood factor after the 2-0 defeat at Burnley last weekend.
Coady has felt Cup fever around the city all season after boss Nuno Espirito Santo’s decision to pick strong teams in the world’s oldest knockout competition paid off handsomely.
“We have detected a buzz all season – it’s been something that we have wanted to do well in from the get go, from when we played Liverpool,” he said.
“Now it’s here, it’s fantastic and to get the win other night was fantastic because it’s made the week a really good one. We all can’t wait for it.”
Although Coady is the only one who has played in an FA Cup semi-final, Wolves have plenty of big-game experience.
Joao Moutinho won Euro 2016 with Portugal and has won three Portuguese league titles, three Portuguese Cups, a Ligue 1 title in France and appeared in a French Cup final, and Raul Jimenez has won the Olympics with Mexico at Wembley and two Portuguese league titles. In addition, Ruben Neves has Champions League experience, like Moutinho.
Coady believes that know-how will be important tomorrow.
“We’ve got to play as we do; we know it’s a big game but it’s a game of football,” he said. “We know what’s at stake, we know what’s ahead of us if we can win.
“It’s just the same as when we played Manchester United in the quarter-final – we knew it was a big game, but we’ve got players who have played in huge matches before.
“It’s not a case of we’re a team full of young boys who haven’t played big games like this before.
“Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves have played for Portugal and in the Champions League, and look at what Raul Jimenez has done. There are loads of boys who have done, so we are ready for it.”
Wolves have not been in an FA Cup final since they last won it in 1960 and Coady is desperate to win some silverware.
The club has lost its last four FA Cup semi-finals and the 26-year-old Liverpudlian is aware of just how much the fans crave success.
“That’s what we want to do. The club has not been there for a long time so if we can do that, it will be special for supporters,” he said.
“Now we’re there, we need to make sure we’re ready for the battle, because we know how tough it’s going to be. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us.
“I can’t tell you how happy we are so we want to go and do well and get a good result on Sunday.”
Watford might have a psychological edge after winning 2-0 at Molineux in the Premier League in October.
That was one of the games that prompted head coach Nuno Espirito Santo to tweak his formation from 3-4-3 to 3-5-2 after Watford outnumbered Wolves in central midfield.
Coady admits that sting from the Hornets was something of a wake-up call on their Premier League journey.
“They came with a gameplan of how they wanted to play and we should have been prepared better,” he said.
“It was probably our toughest game we have played, and the way they played.
“I don’t think we played too well either but from then, we looked at it and we knew we had to improve in the Premier League.
“It’s two good teams going up against each other. Watford have done fantastically well this season.
“It was really tough so we know what to expect but from then on, it’s gone all right. We need to make sure we’re different to that day and I think we are.”