Lee Johnson hailed the moment of quality that enabled Sunderland to end their 48-year Wembley hoodoo with victory in the Papa John's Trophy final.
Lynden Gooch's second-half goal, following a defence-splitting through-ball from from Aiden McGeady, gave the Sky Bet League One promotion hopefuls a 1-0 win over Tranmere at Wembley.
It ended a run of eight winless trips to the national stadium since the Black Cats upset Leeds to win the 1973 FA Cup final.
And Johnson said: "It was a really difficult game. One moment of quality has made us come out victors.
"What will be remembered when we're looking back at the highlights in 10 years' time won't be the sloppy pass that went out of play, it'll be when McGeady found Gooch and he finished with aplomb.
"We did work on that, Goochy's out-to-in run, we thought that might catch them out and it paid off in a difficult game.
"I feel very happy for the fans. It's been a long time coming.
"The boys who have been through final defeats... I'm delighted Goochy scored and McGeady, (Max) Power and (Grant) Leadbitter, they've put that ghost to rest that everyone talks about.
"I know how much heartache the fans have had over the years and we're just so pleased to be able to give them something back."
League Two beat League One in Saturday's 2020 final as Salford saw off Portsmouth – but there was no repeat despite a spirited display from Tranmere.
Keith Hill's team had the best chance of the first half in the 15th minute when Grant Leadbitter's attempted clearance of Danny Lloyd's shot was well kept out by stretching Sunderland goalkeeper Lee Burge.
And after Gooch's breakthrough, Tranmere had a good spell of pressure which saw George Ray and substitute Corey Blackett-Taylor both come close.
Johnson continued: "We were slightly sloppy in the first half but the second half was much better. We had to ride out that spell, six or seven minutes after we'd scored. They threw caution to the wind a little bit.
"There were a lot of tired out legs out there and emotionally it was tiring. No final is ever easy. Hopefully this is the start of our journey."
Hill was proud and upbeat despite his side's defeat.
He told Sky Sports: "Not just the final, the competition – we've taken it very seriously, we've prepared to win every game, we just fell a bit short today.
"We've performed well today. The scoreboard doesn't lie but it doesn't mean we're losers, the fact that we've been beaten today.
"I'm really pleased about the successes that we've had, and there's success in that performance today. That inspires me and I hope it inspires the players to go and achieve what we really want to achieve this season, and that's promotion.
"I think we're very close as a club. The future is bright.
"We're in a great position in the league, got 13 games to play, and this certainly won't put us off. We'll be hurt by this but hopefully that'll inspire us to go and do what we want to do."