WEST Ham boss Sam Allardyce admitted Blackpool were the equal of his team at Wembley.
The Hammers chief cut a relieved figure at the end after Ricardo Vaz Te blasted in a winner three minutes from time to secure Premier League football for the Londoners.
But Allarydce, who was Seasiders manager in the mid-90s, when he lost at the play-off semi-final stage in an infamous defeat to Bradford, acknowledged his side were a little fortunate.
“Blackpool were easily as good as us on the day, but it is about taking your chances and no more so than on Saturday. We managed to swing it just at the death,” he said.
“It’s 49 games and it’s the first one we’ve won in the last few minutes this season.
“I’m sure (owners) David Sullivan and David Gold will be very happy.
“It was a magnificent game, end to end and, in the end, we got one more goal than Blackpool.
“It means everything to me. It was difficult at the start to turn the club around with the relegation problem we’ve had, but we turned it round and came good at the end.
“I’ll look forward to the celebrations first before I start worrying about the Premier League next year.
“We’re just delighted about how much it means at West Ham for the players, the owners, the staff and the 30 or 40,000 fans here.”
Allardyce, who guided Bolton to promotion via the play-offs at the Millennium Stadium in 2001, added: “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 bigger than anything else, other games played here are cup competitions, but this is everything.
“It’s the first time I have come to Wembley 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.”