Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, paid tribute to his players after watching them add West Ham to their growing collection of Premier League scalps.
Michael Doyle scored the decisive spot-kick as the visitors, triumphing 5-4 on penalties, reached the Capital One Cup third round for the first time since 2008.
Clough told The Star: “That was all about courage, heart and desire. Those were qualities every single one of our players showed throughout.
“Coming to places like West Ham is never easy. They’re hostile places for visiting footballers.
“That’s why you’ve got to show guts and spirit. You don’t achieve anything, be it in knockout competition or the league, unless you do that.”
Clough, whose team beat Aston Villa and Fulham en route to the semi-finals of last season’s FA Cup, continued: “This is a football club that wants occasions like this. And to be able to celebrate in front of our fans, because you could see how much they enjoyed it, also meant the world.
“We’d worked on penalties before the match and the lads had been brilliant. In fact, they’d been that good we were a little bit worried they wouldn’t be able to repeat it on the night.”
United, who have yet to submit an official offer for Leeds captain Jason Pearce, fell behind when Diafra Sakho edged West Ham ahead before Winston Reid’s own goal sent the tie to extra-time and penalties.
Ben Davies, Neill Collins, Marc McNulty and Jay McEveley all converted before Mark Howard denied Enner Valencia. Doyle duly made no mistake as United progressed.
Clough, meanwhile, has confirmed he could approach Hull City about the possibility of re-signing Harry Maguire on loan “over the next few days” if United’s Yorkshire rivals, who paid £2.5m to acquire the defender’s services last month, fail to qualify for the Europa League.