The 40-year-old was the manager of Norwich City when the Canaries beat Middlesbrough to earn Premier League promotion in 2015.
Neil’s side led 2-0 after only 15 minutes and held on comfortably for a momentous victory.
The Sunderland boss is hoping for a repeat of that occasion on Saturday afternoon as his team prepares to face Wycombe Wanderers for a place in the Championship next season.
There was a lot of pre-match hype for both sides when Norwich faced Middlesbrough, but an early pair of goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond sealed a perfect start to the game that Boro never could overcome.
The former Norwich boss believes it is in those big occasions that players and coaches get remembered for most.
“They’re good memories,” said Neil, via The Northern Echo.
“I think Boro had beaten us 6-1 on aggregate that season, although I was only there for one of those games. They were the favourites, but the game was really finished before it had got started – we had put it to bed.
“They’re naturally good memories, but you only really reflect on them when they’re done. I remember after that match being absolutely exhausted, so mentally tired. I’d only been a manager for a couple of seasons at that point.
“But those days stick with you forever, and that is what these lads will find out on Saturday. It’s these moments where you’re judged as a manager or a player.
“Irrespective of what level you’ve played at, or how much money you’ve made, no one remembers you for that. They remember you for the key moments in time. Those are the key moments that live forever with fans and clubs.”
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The Black Cats go into this weekend as the favourites having finished ahead of Wycombe in the final league standings.
Sunderland earned a 2-1 aggregate victory over Sheffield Wednesday to reach this moment, while Gareth Ainsworth’s side defeated MK Dons in the other semi-final.
It is a huge occasion when two sides meet at Wembley with promotion as a huge prize on offer.
Victory for either side on Saturday will be a massive moment in the respective club’s modern history.
Sunderland suffered an almighty downfall in recent years, but this could be the beginning of their recovery back to the top.
But Wycombe have punched above their weight in the past and will be hoping to do so again this weekend.