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2013-06-25T06:00:00 Updated 2015-02-19T00:28:24

The Big Interview - Martin Allen

Martin Allen is one of those players who will always be held in high esteem by West Ham United fans.

The tough-tackling central midfielder spent six seasons at the Boleyn Ground between 1989 and 1995, scoring 34 goals in 232 appearances in claret and blue and becoming a terrace hero in east London.

Since hanging up his boots, Allen has forged a career as a manager, enjoying success at Barnet, Brentford, Milton Keynes Dons and Notts County before leading Gillingham to their first title in 49 years courtesy of winning League Two last season.

The official website caught up with 'Mad Dog' to ask the 47-year-old to share his thoughts on the Hammers and the Gills.

Congratulations Martin! You must be immensely proud to have led Gillingham to the League Two title last season?

MA: "It has been a brilliant year, promotion in the first season at Gillingham. They were all free transfers, with young players coming through. I think we've played some good football and it's been a magnificent year.

"I've been to several Play-Offs but never managed to quite get over the line, often taking over clubs in trouble in relegation areas and building teams to get into the Play-Offs.

"It's been unbelievable. It was not only promotion, but we were the champions, so for me personally it's an unbelievable feeling. I always thought I'd be known as the firefighter, coming in to stop teams getting relegated, but to be able to do this over a longer period was definitely the highlight of my whole career, without a shadow of a doubt."

To win a title is a great achievement at any level, so what was your secret at Gillingham?

MA: "We had been top the whole season, and we played good football. We get it down and play, we get our full-backs overlapping. Towards the end of the season, we were getting 10-11,000 sell-out crowds every week. We just kept going and going and going right through to the very end and somehow or other we managed to stay in there, hang in there, and came through it.

"And now to be a champion, I think my nickname has changed from Mad Dog to Top Dog!"

What about your old Club West Ham United? Were you also pleased to see the Hammers enjoy such a comfortable season in the Barclays Premier League?

MA: "I think it was quite a remarkable season for West Ham to be honest. I came to watch them play against Manchester United with my Chairman Paul Scally, as a guest of Mr Gold. The hospitality beforehand was absolutely first-class and then the performance from the team was quite outstanding.

"The movement, the passing and I thought Andy Carroll on the night was absolutely outstanding. I thought he was a Julian Dicks-type warrior and character. The West Ham supporters love that hero-type person and I thought he was brilliant.

"The team not only used him with his height, his power and his strength, but they also played good football. They moved the ball around the pitch on the grass and I thought they had a good mixture."

As a fellow manager, have you been impressed by the job Sam Allardyce has done since he came to the Boleyn Ground?

MA: "It's amazing to finish in the top ten. It's an unbelievable achievement and to do what has happened is quite remarkable. Sam has brought in good players. He's only doing here what he did at Bolton.

"In the next couple of years you can see where this team and this club is going. I just think over the next couple of years it won't just stabilise - it will get better, bigger and stronger. And with the fan base going into the new stadium, I think it has the potential to be a club that's challenging.

"The crowd on that night against Manchester United, the atmosphere was absolutely first class. That's important as well, that the supporters continue to get behind the manager, get behind the players. No doubt in the summer, they want to get stronger and keep improving. Sam Allardyce is a very good man at player recruitment and I think the future is very bright, most definitely."

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