Former Norwich City defender Michael Nelson looking to make it a cup double with Bradford City
PUBLISHED: 10:52 25 January 2013 | UPDATED: 10:52 25 January 2013
Keith Campbell - The Sun Glasgow
Defender Michael Nelson is aiming for a remarkable League Cup final double after his new club, Bradford City, booked a trip to Wembley.
The former Norwich City centre-half starred in the Kilmarnock side that beat Celtic 1-0 to lift the Scottish Communities League Cup at Hampden Park last March.
Now, after swapping Scottish Premier League football for life in League Two only last week, the 32-year-old Nelson could be in line for another day to remember after the Bantams beat Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa over two legs to reach the Capital One Cup final, where they meet Swansea City on February 24.
Nelson was on the substitutes’ bench at Villa Park on Tuesday night as Phil Parkinson’s Bradford went down 2-1 in the second leg, but reached the final 4-3 on aggregate. It was his first match day involvement with his new club after Saturday’s game at Port Vale was postponed.
He admits to feeling just “a little bit” of a gatecrasher, but will grab the opportunity to play at Wembley with both hands if it presents itself.
“It was a bit strange – we had a game on Saturday that was off due to the weather so I wasn’t able to play at the weekend. Then the manager put me on the bench on Tuesday,” said Nelson.
“The boys did brilliantly. They played very well over the two legs.
“Now the lads will be putting all their focus on the League Two games and on getting the club back to where it wants to be.
“It can only help, the fact the players will be fighting for their places in the League Cup final.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to get into the team and do as well as I can and try to get myself in contention for the starting line-up for the final.
“The boys have been here all season, but once you sign for a club, you’re part of the squad and you have to try to settle in quickly. I have signed a deal here, I’m not on loan, so I’m part of the fixtures and fittings.”
There is a certain irony in Parkinson snapping up Nelson. It was the centre-half’s winning goal against Charlton three years ago that clinched promotion from League One for Lambert’s Canaries – when Parkinson was manager at The Valley.
Now his first night on duty for Bradford ended with Lambert’s Wembley hopes in tatters.
“It’s funny because Phil Parkinson mentioned it the day I signed that I’d scored the goal that sent Norwich up and just about ended Charlton’s chance of automatic promotion,” said Nelson.
“I think he was hoping for a little bit of revenge over Paul Lambert and he got it on Tuesday night.”
Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels said Nelson’s departure – for a reported £50,000 - represented a “massive loss” for the club. He said the defender was a huge part of the club’s success in 2012, when their Hampden victory ended Celtic’s unbeaten run of 26 domestic games.
But the ex-Canary was attracted by a return to England and Bradford’s ambition as they sit on the fringes of the League Two play-off places and attract five-figure crowds to Valley Parade.
“We had the winter break in Scotland and I had a call from my agent to say Bradford were interested,” he said.
“Then the clubs negotiated a fee and it all started to pick up and we got it done at the back end of last week.
“I have been living away from home quite a while so this will bring me closer to my family, but it’s about the club as well.
“It’s a massive club with a great fan base, they have been doing well in cup competitions and pushing for promotion and it just all fell into place.”
Nelson, who scored five times in 45 games for the Canaries over an 18-month period before joining Scunthorpe in January 2011, meanwhile brushed up on his new club’s Wembley opponents when he watched the Swansea-Chelsea semi-final, second leg.
“I was doing a little bit of homework but we are in the final now and I don’t think the lads had any preference on who they played,” he said.
“They’re just really pleased to be there and they won’t worry about playing a Premier League team – they’ve already taken care of three of them.”