Amazingly, it is nearly eleven years since West Ham United pulled off what has become known as the ‘Great Escape’ from relegation from the Premier League.
After suffering a heart-breaking 4-3 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur at the Boleyn Ground on 4 March 2007, the Hammers were ten points from safety with just nine matches left to play.
Then, something special happened, as Alan Curbishley’s squad turned things around in sensational style, winning seven of those remaining nine games to stay up after winning 1-0 at champions Manchester United on an unforgettable final day.
Among the 14 heroes who helped the Hammers pull off the greatest escape in the Club’s long and illustrious history that famous afternoon was midfielder Hayden Mullins, who replaced match-winner Carlos Tevez for the eight final nerve-wracking minutes at Old Trafford.
We went on a magnificent run at the end of the season
“Despite the fact that they had already won the Premier League, going to Manchester United on the final day of the season knowing that we probably needed to get something from the game to stay up was quite a daunting prospect,” recalled Mullins, who celebrates his 39th birthday on Tuesday.
“We’d had a rollercoaster of a season and it was sad that Alan Pardew lost his job halfway through, because I think if he had been able to bring in the players that came in the January – the likes of Lucas Neill, Matty Upson and Luis Boa Morte – then I’m sure we would have also stayed up under him.
“We went on a magnificent run at the end of the season, though, inspired by Carlos Tevez, and he was our hero again at Old Trafford.
“I remember after about 60 minutes, they brought on Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes – and we all just looked at each other and thought: ‘Here we go!’
“Somehow, though, we held on to win and the feeling at the final whistle was absolutely fantastic. It’s up there with the biggest achievements in my time at West Ham.”