Date:Sunday May 27 2007
Former Sunderland, Watford, Aston Villa and England international Kevin Phillips insists that he would prefer winning this Monday's Championship Play-Off Final without a penalty shoot-out.
Albion take on Derby County at the new Wembley Stadium in the Championship Play-Off Final with an estimated £60,000,000 prize fund for the winners makes this (financial speaking) the biggest club competition final in the World.
Phillips, who has nailed 22 goals this season, including three against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 4-1 aggregate Semi-Final is eager not to be on the losing side this Monday.
With Sunderland Phillips lost the 1998 final at the old Wembley when Charlton Athletic won a nail biting but exciting penalty shoot-out 7-6 after a 4-4 draw with Phillips netting one of the Black Cats goals.
And Phillips said: 'I scored a goal to beat Brian Clough's Sunderland record for goals in a season but we ended up losing.
'It was probably the worst afternoon of my career - to have worked so hard for those extra weeks at the end of the season but for it to have come to nothing.
'Remembering how badly that hurt me has definitely motivated me this time around because I never want to experience anything like that again.
'I was off the field by the time penalties had come around - I was substituted after cramp - but if it came down to penalties again I would definitely be up for taking one.
'I would be up for taking the first one in fact, but let us hope it will not come to that.'
Nevertheless, Phillips admitted his dread of the shoot-out stemmed from the agonies he saw Gray endure nine years ago.
'Michael Gray was destroyed about that penalty miss,' said Phillips.
'He was in bits and for about 10 days would not answer his phone or talk to anyone.
'It is a massive responsibility because if you miss, no matter how people comfort you or what they say to you, you will know what was riding on it.
'Personally, I think it is too much responsibility for one person.'
But Phillips heads into the game on a high after having played 42 games this season after a £700,000 move from Aston Villa in August.
And he said: 'There is no way I would have played that number of games for Villa and that has helped me reach my goals target for the season, which I have not done for a while.
'I see Monday afternoon's game as probably my last chance ever to play at Wembley again and my last chance ever to get back into the Premiership.'
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|16. Aston Villa||37||10||8||19||-25||38|
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