Avram Grant: 'This belongs to the fans and players'

Avram Grant may look an unemotional, uncharismatic man, but verbally he is a match for Jose Mourinho. Last night he paid a heartfelt tribute to his players, the Portsmouth fans, everyone connected with a club that has endured a ghastly season.

Relegated and bankrupt they may be but Portsmouth showed extraordinary spirit and the Israeli seemed quite overcome as he sought to absorb the result his team had conjured. "Not many people expected us to get to the final: a team at the bottom of the table against a team like Tottenham. But we had the belief, the courage to come to this game and win it," he said.

"Five players weren't fully fit, they could not have played 120 minutes, but they gave something from their hearts. We lost Nadir Belhadj in training yesterday at the last minute, some players didn't play in their natural position. You can't imagine how difficult it's been in terms of tactics because we haven't known until the last minute who could play for us because of injuries and contracts [some players were in doubt because playing would trigger payments the administrator would not sanction]. Despite all of this, we played football, created chances and scored twice. I'm very proud."

He added: "This achievement belongs to the fans and the players. They never gave up. The easy solution is to give up, and your life is much easier. But I told the players that I don't believe in taking the easy option. We decided to keep fighting. I wouldn't wish on anyone what we have had: to come to work not knowing what would happen next."

Describing the scenes of jubilation in the dressing room, Grant said: "For these moments, you work all your life. [Ricardo] Rocha gave his man of the match award to Hermann Hreidarsson who was injured [a few weeks ago]. To see the members of staff who have been sacked in the dressing room with us, people who the players have paid to be with us – it's very humbling."

To his credit Harry Redknapp did not dampen the mood, refusing to use either the pitch, on which Michael Dawson slipped for the opening goal, or the decision to disallow Peter Crouch's "equaliser", as an excuse, though he was forthright about both.

"It wasn't our day. We had enough opportunities but couldn't stick one away. I thought it was a good goal. If you see David James's face, he looked round and said: 'How did I get away with that?' But full credit to Portsmouth.

"The pitch is a disgrace. It is rock-hard underneath and wet on top, it's like a skating rink. It's not an excuse, it's the same for both sides, but for any team to have to play on that is farcical. How can you play football on a pitch you can't stand up on?

James himself said of the occasion: "We were eight or nine-to-one to win the game, so it's nice to prove people wrong. This season has encapsulated just about every emotion, and to get to a cup final at the end is wonderful."

Grant, who sported an armband marking yesterday's Holocaust Remembrance Day, travels to Poland today for a memorial service for Holocaust victims, among whom were many relatives. It is the first he will have attended since the October death of his father, Meir, who survived the camps but buried siblings and parents with his own hands. Two years ago the occasion coincided with Grant steering Chelsea to the Champions League final. He said: "It has happened twice, we get to a final; it's more than symbolic."

Bite-size

Yesterday's 2-0 victory for Portsmouth against Tottenham at Wembley was the first time in four attempts Pompey have beaten Spurs in an FA Cup tie after losing 2-1 in the fifth round in 1991, 3-1 in the fourth in 1967 and 5-0 in the third in 1937.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam