Johnny Russell: Derby Wembley final comes as early surprise
Derby County striker Johnny Russell admits reaching the Championship play-off final and challenging for promotion has come sooner than expected.
Russell, 24, said he was lured to Derby from Scottish side Dundee United by the club's Premier League ambitions.
"I didn't think for a second it would be in my first season," said Russell.
Talking to BBC East Midlands Today, Russell continued: "When I signed, that was one of the main things we spoke about - we wanted to be pushing into the play-offs.
"We've worked hard to get there and there is no way we are going to be giving it up without a fight."
Since former Rams boss Nigel Clough signed Russell for about £750,000, the Scot has scored nine goals in 42 Rams appearances.
Russell played a part in Derby's third against Brighton on Sunday with George Thorne volleying home after the Seagulls' defence failed to clear the striker's initial threat.
The Rams, who led 2-1 after the first leg, extended their advantage before half-time with Will Hughes flicking in a Jamie Ward cross.
Chris Martin, Thorne and Jeff Hendrick completed the convincing victory before Kazenga Lua Lua netted a late consolation for the visitors.
Derby defender Richard Keogh said carrying momentum from the emphatic semi-final to Wembley will be important.
"To win that way was fantastic - hopefully we can keep that going and finish the job off," he said.
"We've had a fantastic season so far, played some great stuff, scored a lot of goals and played entertaining football, and that is what our mentality was coming into the play-offs.
"We have worked so hard to get here, we didn't want to let the opportunity pass us by."