Jaap Stam rates making play-off final with Reading one of the best moments of his career
Last Updated: 17/05/17 12:05am
Reading boss Jaap Stam feels making the play-off final ranks as one of the best achievements of his illustrious footballing career.
Stam's side booked their place in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final after beating Fulham 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) in a closely matched semi-final on Tuesday.
The winning strike came from the boot of Yann Kermorgant after referee Martin Atkinson awarded Reading a controversial penalty for a handball by Tomas Kalas.
The former Manchester United centre-back couldn't hide his emotion at the achievement of his players.
"It's one of the top ones," he said, when asked about where the achievement ranks.
"It's great to come here to work at a club with a lot of potential - the players are prepared to work really hard.
"We needed to defend, we needed to dig in and we got that win which is very important."
Fulham created plenty of openings in the second-leg but found home goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi in unbeatable form with the shot-stopper making a string of fine saves to deny the west Londoners.
As Fulham pushed for a late equaliser, Al-Habsi pushed over a firm Kevin McDonald effort over the crossbar on 77 minutes before bravely denying substitute Chris Martin from close range minutes later.
"Ali has been great throughout the whole season," Stam added.
"The players are very happy with him because Ali is a keeper with great reflexes - it was a terrific game for him."
Stam also revealed Kermorgant was the only Reading player in the frame for the penalty which sent them to Wembley.
Reading have missed six of their 12 penalties this season, while Leicester fans will still shudder at the thought of Kermorgant's Panenka-style spot-kick miss in their play-off defeat against Cardiff in 2010.
But there were no frills this time the 35-year-old Frenchman crashed home his 19th goal of the season to secure a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Stam said: "We trained on penalties yesterday and Yann was the only one who scored! So he had to do it today.
"That's why I was hoping it would be over in 90 minutes. But nine out of 10 times Yann is going to score with a penalty. We were very confident he would score."