THE only player to win two play-off finals with Bolton Wanderers is backing them to emerge triumphant at Wembley this weekend.

Gudni Bergsson will be watching his beloved Whites from Iceland with high hopes that Ian Evatt’s side can succeed in their bid for promotion to the Championship.

A winner with Bolton at Wembley in 1995 and at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, in 2001, the former captain offered some words of advice for the players who take to the field against Oxford United, based on his own experiences of playing in high-pressure games.

He told The Bolton News: “It is normal to have some nervous feelings about the game, it is a big occasion and there is a lot at stake. You need to use that energy for good, rise up to the challenge.

“As a player, you have to keep a clear mind about one thing, and that is doing your job for the team.

“It is a dual mentality. Every player must keep that focus on themselves, on the task, and if enough of them succeed, then the team wins the game.

“Concentration is so important, especially if you get ahead. Don’t let them back in. You could see against Barnsley in the semi-final, you cannot let one slip allow your opponent an opportunity they don’t deserve to win.

“I will be watching, I’m really looking forward to it. I watched the semi-final and it was fantastic to see everyone so happy after the final whistle.

“I have my fingers crossed but I have a good feeling about it. I think we will be promoted.

“But if something happens and the game is not going our way then another thing I have learned is that you can never give up. Look at what happened against Reading – we were 2-0 down but there is always a route back.”

Bergsson’s distinguished Bolton career spanned nine different seasons and more than 300 first team appearances, and began at Wembley with a debut made for Bruce Rioch in the Coca Cola Cup final against Liverpool.

“It was an amazing few weeks we had at Bolton, and for me personally, coming back into the English game at that point.

“Strangely enough my last game in England had been with Spurs against Arsenal in a semi-final at Wembley, so it was quite a surreal thing to be back there and making my debut straight away at the same place.

“We came up one goal short, but we gave them a great game and the big one was a few weeks later against Reading.”

Bolton’s first-ever play-off final victory was a memorable comeback from 2-0 down against Reading, a game which could have been out of sight had it not been for a penalty save from Keith Branagan just before half time.

“You want to go to Wembley, you want to play at Wembley, but at the end of the day you want to win at Wembley,” Bergsson recalled.

“It was a pivotal moment from Branny, otherwise they would have been 3-0 up.

“I remember it was a hot day and Wembley is that sort of a place, if you are chasing, not playing right, it is a big pitch and a bad place to be.

“We started really sluggish, gave them a two-goal lead. We were a spirited side who had been through a tough semi-final against Wolves but we didn’t perform anywhere near it in the first half.

“We were looking at each other in disbelief. It was a shocking performance. But we got the lifeline and got our act together with some tactical changes at half time.

“We were brilliant for the rest of the game.

“Being on the winning side after trailing 2-0 was just an amazing experience.”

Bergsson went back to the play-off final six years later. Wanderers, then under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce, were looking to return to the Premier League after a three-year absence.

Victory against Preston North End looked routine, given the 3-0 scoreline, but a scrappy game was not completely won until the last few minutes of regular time.

“It was very different, I had more experience but maybe more responsibility, being captain,” Bergsson reflected of his second play-off final.

“I was relatively relaxed before that final. I think we looked at our opponent and felt we had the better team. There was a real confidence going through the team.

“We had a lot of clean sheets that season. It wasn’t the most exciting game, we’d got the goal from Gareth Farrelly and then cruised for most of it. I went close with a header, and it was relatively comfortable but with a 1-0 scoreline, you never know.

“It was a relief when Michael Ricketts and Ricardo Gardner scored their goals but it wasn’t as explosive a game as it had been in 1995.

“As always, the elation and joy of getting back into the Premier League was just a great feeling.

Though the 2001 win was not as exciting a spectacle, Bergsson has fond memories of post-game celebrations with a man who embodied Bolton Wanderers more than anyone ever has.

“That day, it was for Nat Lofthouse,” he said.

“He was a great figure, an ambassador for the club who was everything that it stands for.

“We all knew of his great achievements in the game for Bolton and for England but we knew him as a great gentleman.

“It was good to have him around and it is nice looking at the photos we have of him with us in the dressing room, celebrating with the team. He was one of us and as happy as anyone at being back in the Premier League.

“He had this aura of class about him. A quiet confidence and he was a humble person as well.

“One thing I will always remember, and I thought it was great, when he was being asked for an autograph, he would always say ‘thank you for asking me.’ I just thought that was wonderful.

“He was a Boltonian, part of the community he served. A great, great player and to make him happy that day was just fantastic.”