PROMOTION this weekend ‘would mean everything’ to Oxford United defender Sam Long.

The 29-year-old, who was born in Bicester, has been associated with the U’s for more than two decades.

Aside from loan spells at Kidderminster Harriers and Hampton & Richmond Borough, Long has only ever represented United, making 244 appearances across all competitions.

He said: “It would mean everything. I’ve been here since I was eight years old, and I’ve been through all the ups and downs.

“It would really be the best moment of my career if we can win on Saturday.”

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Long was a teenager when the U’s beat York City in the Conference play-off final at Wembley in 2010, and was among the 33,000 United fans who made the trip to the national stadium.

“I was there in 2010 and it was unbelievable. It was a different occasion with different outcomes, with getting back in the League,” he said.

“We’re now one step away from the Championship, and it’s amazing how far the club has come in that space of time, and hopefully we can repeat what was done in 2010 because that would be the best moment in my career if we can do it.

“With some of the teams that are coming down from the Premier League, and some of the grounds and stadiums you’d be playing in week in and week out, if we win on Saturday, that’s going to be the reality of next season.”

Oxford Mail:

This weekend will be the fourth time Long has been to Wembley as a player, following two Football League Trophy finals, and the 2020 Sky Bet League One play-off final, which was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Long said: “I’ve been there as a player three times now. I’m still yet to win, but hopefully we can put that right on Saturday, and we can come away as winners.

“It’s the best place to win and the worst place to lose, so hopefully we can be on the right side of it.

“Experience is huge in these sorts of occasions because people can lean on you, and you can take stock from different angles.

“When the game is getting away from you, you know how to take the sting out of it, a bit like we did on Wednesday.

“It’s invaluable really. They’ve got a lot of experience in their team as well, and we’ve got the experience of being at Wembley with no fans there, but it’s an experience nonetheless.

“Hopefully the hurt that we felt a couple of years ago against Wycombe, we can turn that into a positive come Saturday, and lean on those experiences, and turn it into a positive result for us.

“I can imagine it’s the best place to win. I’ve never felt that feeling. Hopefully I can feel that feeling on Saturday, but it’s also the worst place to lose.

“The play-off final is something you’ve worked for all season, to get promoted, and hopefully we don’t feel that pressure of losing.”