After 22 goals in an impressive campaign, Derby striker Chris Martin is eyeing the perfect end to the perfect season at Wembley this Saturday.
Following defeat to this weekend’s opponents QPR on 2 November The Rams went on an incredible run losing just six of their next 32 games on their way to securing a third-place finish.
However Martin admits no-one saw such a wonderful season coming when the east Midlands outfit began the campaign winning just three of their opening ten Championship fixtures.
“I think we were about 14th at one point and if you’d asked us back then if we expected to be in the play-off final we’d have probably said no,” the striker told WembleyStadium.com.
“But the momentum we’ve built up throughout the season is what’s got us to this point.”
“We are quite a young team so we’ve been on a learning curve throughout the whole season. We’ve got better and better so hopefully that’ll stand us in good stead for the final.”
Derby did their best to hang onto the coat-tails of both Leicester and Burnley who ended up securing the Championship’s two automatic promotion places.
However, despite The Rams’ impressive run toward the end of the campaign, it became clear well before then that Martin and his team-mates would have to settle for a place in the play-offs.
But rather than that proving a disappointment for the Derby players, the former Norwich man says it focussed their minds on the task ahead.
“We knew for a little while the target was probably going to be third place just because Burnley had such a great season,” reflected Martin.
“I think that helped us because some teams can finish third and feel a sense of disappointment going into the play-offs but we knew that was likely to be our goal.”
“We carried a lot of good form going into the play-offs and I think that was key.”
That good form continued in the semi-final as Derby defeated Brighton 2-1 at The Amex Arena before a resounding 4-1 home win rubber-stamped The Rams’ place at Wembley.
And the striker says that for many of the players in Derby’s young side Saturday’s final at the national stadium will be the finest moment of their careers so far.
“Playing at Wembley will be massive. It means everything to us,” said Martin.
“For most of us it will probably be the biggest game of our careers so far and I think we are all looking forward to proving ourselves on that Wembley stage.”
Barring an incredible goal haul from Craig Bryson on Saturday, Martin will finish the season as Derby’s top scorer.
Despite that fact the big front man is modest about the part he has played in his team’s season.
“I’ve been lucky because I’m playing in a good side which creates a lot of chances and that’s all you can ask for as a striker,” said Martin.
“The ball has fallen to me in good areas this season and I’ve managed to stick a few away but any striker playing in this team would have enjoyed it and would have got goals.”