BRUCE Dyer is hoping the current Barnsley side managed by his former team-mate Valerien Ismael can emulate his blistering performance in the Reds’ only previous second tier play-off semi-final.
Dyer netted twice in the 4-0 victory at Birmingham City in May 2000, before Dave Bassett’s team secured a 5-2 aggregate win but lost 4-2 to Ipswich Town in the final.
He has remained in Barnsley ever since.
Dyer told the Chronicle: “I work in schools in Barnsley and that generation can’t remember me playing, but they always say ‘my parents or grandparents told me that, when I see you, I should ask you about the Birmingham game’.
“The other one they say to me is ‘Bruce, Bruce, Bruce.’
“It was a special game to me on so many levels.
“I had had a really difficult time with Dave Bassett that season and was praying for a chance. I got it and I took it.
“I am hoping this team can do the same then go one better at Wembley.”
Dyer – who scored 70 goals for the Reds in 206 games – is delighted that Barnsley are close to the top flight yet again and has turned down appointments on the day of the Championship final.
“It’s been fantastic, phenomenal and miraculous.
“It’s surprised everyone.
“I have spoken to players in the squad and they just feel really united and they want to play for the manager.
“You can get a real sense of team spirit and unity from the side.
“They are very hard to beat.
“Potentially this could bring such blessings to this town after such a difficult year, from an economic and morale point of view.
“Being in the Premier League would change the face of the community on many levels, like it did last time in 1997.
“Personally, I think they are going to do it.
“I don’t usually watch a lot of football because I don’t have time but this run-in has really got my attention and I want to watch all the games.
“Last week, I was asked to speak at an event and I was about to agree but I checked the date and it was the play-off final so I turned it down and said: ‘Barnsley are going to Wembley that day.’”
Dyer played with Valerien Ismael at Crystal Palace in the Premier League in 1998.
The Frenchman was appointed Barnsley head coach in October and has taken them from the bottom four into the top six with a play-off place secure.
“He’s done fantastic.
“He’s passionate and what he’s doing is working.
“I spoke to him when he first came in. It was really good to catch up with him.
“He’s a nice guy.
“He is a lot more confident in his English and less shy than he was at Palace, because he’s older and achieved so much in his career.
“I saw him briefly the other week at the ground when I was dropping my son (Josiah, who has been given a scholarship at Oakwell) off for training.
“It was more just to say congratulations and to keep doing the job he has been doing.”