Nigel Clough saw shades of his dad’s Nottingham Forest team as League One Burton gatecrashed the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
The Burton boss had admitted in advance of the Brewers’ quarter-final trip to Sky Bet Championship Middlesbrough that he could not quite believe a club which was playing non-league football just a decade ago had made it to the last eight.
And his incredulity only increased after a 1-0 win on Teesside against his dad’s hometown club.
Asked what his late father Brian, who played for Boro and guided Nottingham Forest to four League Cup triumphs, would have thought, Clough junior replied: “I think he’d have been proud of our clean sheet and the away performance that we put in. I think he would have been proud of the way we went about it.
“It’s funny because when we play in all yellow, as we did tonight, Forest did it many, many times away from home in an all-yellow strip.
“I’d like to think there were a few characteristics there – nowhere near as good and at the same level, but the same sort of commitment.”
Burton progressed to the last four on the same evening as reigning Premier League champions Manchester City, who beat Leicester on penalties, while the remaining two places will be decided on Wednesday night as north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham clash and Chelsea host Bournemouth.
Albion sit in 15th place in League One, 11 points off the play-off places, as they attempt to fight their way back into the Championship at the first attempt.
Chairman Ben Robinson was not at the Riverside Stadium to see loan signing Jake Hesketh fire Burton to victory three, but his manager was in little doubt as to how big an achievement it was for the club.
Clough said: “Absolutely massive. We’ve had a few, Manchester United cup games and promotions and stuff, but in the context of where we are at the moment as a club, it’s as good as anything.
“Financially it helps, but just the pride of getting to the last four… We don’t talk about money much because there’s not much around our club, but I asked the players and I said, ‘What are we playing for tonight?’ – and I meant money-wise – and they said, ‘Pride’.
“The chairman couldn’t make it tonight, and I know he’ll be absolutely delighted as well for everything. He’s been here longer than anybody at the club and he will be so proud of his team and his club.”
While Clough and his players contemplate a two-legged semi-final next month, Boro boss Tony Pulis was left to reflect upon a missed opportunity and a run of five games in all competitions which has brought no wins and only three goals.
Pulis, whose side was booed from the pitch, said: “We have got to take the chances. The big thing now is just making sure we clear their minds and we get them set for Christmas.”