SAM ALLARDYCE CELEBRATES PROMOTION

Post-match reaction to West Ham's 2-1 victory over Blackpool.

Last Updated: 19/05/12 at 19:23 Post Comment

Ricardo Vaz Te runs away to celebrate his winner.

Ricardo Vaz Te runs away to celebrate his winner.

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Jubilant Sam Allardyce admitted leading West Ham to promotion back to the Barclays Premier League was the biggest achievement of his career.

Ricardo Vaz Te's dramatic late strike secured a 2-1 victory for the Hammers over Blackpool in Saturday's play-off final.

West Ham, relegated last season, missed out on automatic promotion on the final day of this term but that disappointment was forgotten as 40,000-odd fans celebrated a first Wembley win since 1980.

Allardyce, who guided Bolton to promotion via the play-offs at the Millennium Stadium in 2001, said: "It's probably bettered that because it's West Ham United, with the size of the club and the pressure, and because it's at Wembley.

"It's the first time I have come here and won - not that I've been here very often.

"It's been an outstanding, thrilling season compared to where we came from.

"This is a memory for life and we will enjoy it. You want to go up automatically but if you don't and you win the final then it's a memory for everyone for years and years to come.

"The delight you get out of winning at a venue like this, the trophy, the medals, the celebrations, it's an outstanding achievement.

"It's bigger than anything else, other games played here are cup competitions but this is everything, it's about what's happened over 10 months, not six or seven games."

West Ham were short-priced favourites having thumped eight past Blackpool over two matches this season and, after a nervous start when Matt Phillips missed two glorious chances to give the Seasiders the lead, Carlton Cole struck.

The one-time England forward latched on to Matt Taylor's cross to rifle his 15th goal of the campaign past Matt Gilks.

But Allardyce was stunned shortly after the interval when Thomas Ince showed he has inherited his dad Paul's uncanny knack of irritating West Ham's fans when he equalised just after the break.

The winger, whose every touch was jeered by the Hammers supporters who never forgave Ince senior for the manner in which he left the club some 23 years ago, produced a fine finish from Phillips' cross.

But as an end-to-end second half reached a climax, Vaz Te was on hand to crash in the rebound after Cole's shot was blocked.

The Portuguese winger, a £500,000 January buy from Barnsley, looks an even bigger bargain now having netted his club an estimated £90million.

"What a signing," said Allardyce.

"The goals he has scored are probably why I'm sat here now and back in the Premier League. He deserves a lot of credit."

Allardyce has endured a fractious relationship with West Ham's fans at times this season, at one stage branding whinging supporters 'deluded'.

But all was forgiven as the 57-year-old paraded the trophy and sang club anthem 'Bubbles' in front of the delirious claret and blue end - although he admitted: "It's a northern take on it. I can't do it in their accent."

Vaz Te admitted to feeling "blessed" after his late strike secured victory.

"It's a great effort form the lads," the striker told Sky Sports 1.

"Its not about the goal, we showed great character. I think we deserved it.

"We're a Premier League side and we deserved to go up.

"It's terrific really. I feel like I have been blessed with a second chance in my career and it's great to be here."

Vaz Te also revealed he intends to approach the Premier League full of confidence.

"It is another step, a big challenge. We must get there with the mentality that we're a Premier League side and not there to fight for relegation," he said.

"West Ham is a great club."

Hammers captain Kevin Nolan believes the side's young players will light up the Premier League next season.

"I'm absolutely delighted," he said.

"It's been special. Jack Collison and those boys are going to bless the Premier League.

"We were favourites from day one. We said we wanted to win the league and go up automatically. This was plan B. Thankfully we did it and I think we deserved it.

"It was a lot of relief more than anything. It's been a tough day today. Blackpool didn't make it easy."

Joint-chairman David Gold added: "I think it was his master plan to have this fantastic day."

Allardyce claimed failure to secure promotion would have forced the club to slash the wage bill by £10million due to the proposed Financial Fair Play rules.

Instead, it was Blackpool's players who were counting the cost of missing out on promotion after boss Ian Holloway revealed victory would have earned them a share of a £5million bonus.

Holloway, who also shrugged off reports linking him with Aston Villa, said: "The players certainly did me proud. Some things in life are harsh and it certainly feels that way at the moment.

"They scored with their first chance and we had a couple better than that.

"It was on a knife edge, it's the spin of a coin and it's dropped their way so well done, good luck to them, we'll dust ourselves down and start again."

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