Matty's Moment Of Glory

VICTORY at the Millennium Stadium was indeed sweet for Matty Etherington.

After defeat in Cardiff last season and seeing the team hounded by critics this term, the 24-year-old insisted that their Play-off Final triumph was a fantastic way to hit back at their doubters.

"We've taken plenty of stick this season," said Matt. "We've had it from all quarters and at times it's made things difficult.

"But we've stuck to the task really well and the Play-off Final was just reward for all the hard work everyone connected with the Club have put in this year to get us back to the Premiership.

"Our fans have been fantastic this season, esepcially over the final two months when we really needed them. Their support, home and away, is always spot on and in Cariff they were magnificent.

"Looking around the Millennium Stadium after the game you could just see what that day meant to everyone. The fans have had to deal with some tough times as well over the last couple of years. But as a Club we've come through it and now West Ham United is back in the Premiership we have a lot to offer.

"The supporters should really enjoy this moment and then we'll prepare ourselves for the Premier League next season and make sure we build on this."

Matty dropped out of the top-flight when he left Tottenham to join the Hammers in August 2003, but his ambition has always been to return to the big-time. The 24-year-old is delighted to have done it with West Ham United and is looking forward to plying his trade back in the Premiership next season.

"Of course, I'm delighted to be back in the Premier League," he said. "It's where every player wants to play and having played there before I was obviously determined to get back.

"But I came to West Ham because they were a good club who had the structure and facilities of a Premiership side.

"From the first day here I thought that West Ham had what it takes to get back to the Premier League quickly and now we have proved that.

"It was a year of ups and downs for us, particularly with injuries to important players, which hurt us a lot earlier in the season.

"But we came good when it really counted. Over the last 13 games we only lost once and that tells the story of why we won promotion. It's a fantastic achievement for the Club.

"Now we can enjoy the celebrations for a few weeks, before it's back to pre-season and preparing for the Premier League."