The Rotherham United old boy standing in the way of his former club winning promotion has predicted a Wembley battle of wills between the Millers and Shrewsbury Town.
Paul Hurst made more than 500 appearances for Rotherham before going on to become manager of the Shrews and predicts Sunday’s League One Play-off Final at the national stadium won’t be for the faint-hearted.
Shrewsbury finished the regular campaign in third spot, with Paul Warne’s men just one place behind.
“Both teams, numerous times over the course of the season, I’d suggest, have over-powered opponents,” Hurst told the Shropshire Star.
“That doesn’t mean knocking someone off the ball. It’s in terms of out-running teams, breaking the will, being stronger mentally.
“I think that comes, to a degree, from the competitiveness of the managers, from how we pride our teams being.”
Hurst and Warne became good friends when they shared a Millers dressing room for several years and have built teams in their own committed, hard-working mould.
Both sides have beaten the other this season, with Shrewsbury overcoming Rotherham 2-1 at AESSEAL New York Stadium in October and the Millers triumphing 1-0 at New Meadow four months later.
Hurst added: “Some managers will always want to say: ‘I want to be known as a technical team.’ That’s great, but if you’ve got no heart and backbone ... you be a technical team and we’ll run over the top of you.
“We (him and Warne) want a team that does all the parts. Both our teams have shown that side as well as playing good football.
“Against Charlton (in the two-legged play-off semi-final) we showed both sides of our game. We looked a real threat, we passed it quite well at times.”
“When we perhaps lost our way slightly in each game, we stood strong, put bodies on the line. I’m sure Warney’s had those games with his group.
“You want good people who’ll work hard and commit to the shirt and the club. That’ll be part of it, to a degree. Both teams are fully aware of that.”
The Millers had sold nearly 13,500 tickets by close of play yesterday while the Shrews’ sale was nearing 10,000.
With a place in the Championship at stake, Hurst isn’t anticipating a classic encounter.
“How many finals are that good?” he asked. “How many really, really good finals do you remember of late?
“Nerves clearly play a part. Maybe it’s players don’t take risks, play safe, just boot it in the crowd so they haven’t cost a goal.”
Rotherham will wear their red and white home kit at Wembley.