Cup hero Matt Duke is hailed by Nigel Clough
NIGEL Clough is thrilled to see his former goalkeeper at Burton Albion, Matt Duke, heading to Wembley.
Duke produced an heroic display for League Two giant-killers Bradford City as they shocked Premier League Aston Villa to reach the Capital One Cup final.
Bradford lost their semi-final, second leg tie at Villa Park on Tuesday 2-1 but thanks to a 3-1 victory in the first leg, the Bantams progressed to the final 4-3 on aggregate.
Derby County manager Clough described Bradford's achievement as "absolutely remarkable" and believes their fairytale has re-energised the cup competitions.
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And Clough is delighted for 35-year-old Duke, whom he signed while manager at Burton.
Duke had spells at Matlock Town and Alfreton Town before he joined Sheffield United. The Brewers signed him from the Blades in 2000 and he went on to make almost 150 league appearances and then moved to Hull City in 2004.
He also had a brief loan stint at Derby in March 2011 but he did not make an appearance and was soon recalled by Hull.
"We know Dukey from the days at Burton," said Clough ahead of Derby's FA Cup fourth round tie against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
Clough added: "We took him from Sheffield United and he played a big part in us winning the UniBond League before he went on to Hull and played in the Premier League.
"This is a lovely swansong for him because he is a great professional.
"He looks fresh and he is experienced. He is as good a keeper now as at any time in his career."
Clough spoke to Duke only hours before Bradford's second leg against Villa.
"Bradford were up at St George's Park and we saw Dukey, Phil Parkinson (manager) and Steve Parkin (assistant manager)," said Clough.
"I played for England Under-21s with Steve Parkin a few years ago, although I have to stress he was an over-age player!
"You sensed from speaking to them that they thought they had a good chance against Villa.
"It's brilliant, especially when you know the people as well.
"You can beat anybody at home in the Cup when you are a lower-league team, you can have a good night, but to beat a Premier League side over two legs is an incredible achievement.
"What Bradford have achieved has freshened everybody's enthusiasm for the cups."
Nathan Doyle has also played a big part in Bradford's journey to Wembley.
The 26-year-old Derby-born former Rams midfielder joined them last summer after being released by Barnsley. He played 10 first-team games for Derby.
Another summer signing was 24-year-old defender James Meredith, who was a trainee and first-year professional at Derby before he was released in 2007.
Meredith is currently out of the team with glandular fever.