Powell's Parade High

Chris Powell has revealed that Tuesday night's memorable victory parade at Upton Park topped off one of the greatest achievements of his professional life.

The 35-year-old left-back may have made almost 700 appearances in a long and distinguished playing career, but the Play-off Final triumph over Preston North End at the Millennium Stadium was the first major cup final he had ever played in.

And after the joyous celebrations in Cardiff had died down, it was back home to take part in the amazing scenes on the streets of Newham, as the Premiership new-boys were greeted by thousands of ecstatic Hammers fans - an experience that left Chris and many of his team-mates almost lost for words.

"I've never seen anything like that," he says. "After the Final the players were shielded away and celebrated between ourselves but to share it with the supporters was something special and just a great feeling for everyone.

"I'm sure a few people had to take days off - or even throw sickies! - to be there, but it just shows the power of this Club and what it means to the people of East London and even further out. Everywhere I go I seem to bump into West Ham fans and this is a reward for all their tremendous support.

"I'm also really pleased for the staff who have worked so hard behind the scenes. When I first came here on loan, I couldn't believe how well run it was. It really was a Premier League club in all but name, but we've achieved that status again now and can all look forward."

For Chris, the next step will be to ensure he returns to pre-season training in July as a West Ham United player. With his short-term contract having expired this week, the former England international hopes to begin negotiations on a new deal soon and is confident of a positive outcome.

"It's looking good now," he says. "I'm sure this promotion will help me and other players who are out of contract - but we'll have to see how things go.

"I know the boss will add to the squad, whether that be in my position or anywhere else, but you have to understand that there will always be competition for places, especially in the Premiership.

"I'm sure things will sort themselves out but for now we'll just enjoy this moment and celebrate the fact that we are Premiership players, Premiership supporters…and a Premiership club."

Like every Hammers fan present at the Millennium Stadium on Monday afternoon, Chris will never forget the moment that dream became reality and admits he was slightly overwhelmed by the scenes that greeted the final whistle.

"It was a bit of a surreal experience, to be honest. I was saying to some friends yesterday that I wish they could have seen the view of the stadium that the players had from the pitch, it was unbelievable - just a sea of claret and blue.

"Amazingly, I managed to pick out my mum, wife and kids in the crowd, so that was a nice moment and the whole day was fantastic. This is the reason we play football and I told the younger lads to make sure they enjoyed it and took everything in.

"I said it doesn't matter if you wear stupid wigs or do silly dances, because it doesn't happen too often and you have to make the most of it and enjoy it when it does.

"I lost my dad a few years back but he loved West Ham, Clyde Best was his hero in the 1970s and he would have really enjoyed the game on Monday. It was nice for my mum to be there and I was a bit emotional at the final whistle. I'm just proud that we did it and pleased for everyone connected with the club."