Hodgson hails Fulham escape
Roy Hodgson is happy to call Fulham's relegation escape the greatest achievement of his career.
Last Updated: 11/05/08 6:48pm
Roy Hodgson is happy to call Fulham's relegation escape the greatest achievement of his career - and he admits he was not about to celebrate until the referee blew his whistle for full-time.
Fulham had looked certain to go down as recently as last month, but three successive victories ensured they finished above Reading on goal difference.
In a long and varied career, Hodgson has reached the World Cup finals and European Championships with Switzerland, the Uefa Cup final with Internazionale and enjoyed many successes in Scandinavia, but he jokingly admits that the dramatic escape at Fulham tops the lot.
"The press asked me if it was my best achievement and I said, 'Yes, it is, because you're going to write it anyway so I might as well say it'," he told Sky Sports.
"I think I'll stick to that one. I'll have it as my greatest achievement because it was my last and people are going to write it anyway, so I might as well not argue with them."
But while he was delighted for everyone at the club that they escaped, he admits he feels a lot of sympathy for Birmingham and Reading.
"It's a wonderful achievement for the players, great work from the coaching staff - I'm delighted for them and everyone at the club, the chairman in particular and the fans.
"It's just a great day for us.
"But, of course, it's a really bad day for Birmingham and Reading. I can't help but think that in all the great feeling that we have how difficult it must be for them.
"Quite honestly, for long periods in the second half I sitting there contemplating that fate myself."
Fulham were heading for the Championship until Danny Murphy's headed goal 14 minutes from time gave them a crucial lead.
But while the players and fans celebrated, Hodgson notably remained calm and focused.
Asked what went through his mind following the goal, he said: "'Can we make certain we don't concede', because I knew 1-1 wasn't good enough.
"I was more interested in people getting back into position than celebrating the goal."
He added: "All the rest of the time I had the feeling that we were playing well enough to create chances and that a goal was a possibility, but when we actually got it, my major thought was, 'For God's sake - don't let them score'."
Murphy admitted after the game that he broke with Hodgson's instructions to score the goal, but he just followed his instincts.
"I'm not even supposed to go in on free-kicks," he said.
"Jimmy always puts a good ball in and I just decided to go in - sometimes you have that instinct and it's come off today.
"It's a great goal for me because of what it means to the club to stay up. It's not really sunk in yet."
Murphy feels that the escape was even more satisfying because they had been given no hope of survival by many pundits.
He added: "It's even more special in the fact that we'd been written off by so many people.
"I think that too people wrote us off a few weeks ago and after that win at Man City, we really believed and today we've come to a good team and beat them.
"Even though people talk about the cup final next week, they still played a strong team and we had play well to beat them - and we did."