Dave Whelan: This win makes up for 1960 misery

  • @stevetongue

Dave Whelan, Wigan Athletic's owner, claimed last night he had a premonition that his side would triumph 1-0 against Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

The Lancashire side were given little chance by pundits and rated as long-odds outsiders by the bookmakers, but the wealthy sportswear tycoon never lost faith in the club he has transformed since he took control as chairman in 1995.

"I thought we would get Man City in the final and win 1-0," said Whelan, a former Blackburn Rovers player who was injured in the first half of the 1960 Cup final against Wolverhampton Wanderers. "The dream has come true," he added. "I'm repaid for 1960 when I broke my leg and we lost the match. We've now got to stay in the Premier League, we've done everything then. This is going to lift the lads so much."

Wigan are in the bottom three in the Premier League, three points adrift from safety with only two games to save their season, but last night the players were basking in the glory of their stunning win.

Ben Watson, who came on in the 81st minute, replacing Jordi Gomez, was delighted his 90th-minute winner had crowned an unforgettable day for himself and everyone associated with the club.

Watson, who only returned last month after nearly five months out with a broken leg, said: "It is an unbelievable feeling. The boys were fantastic from the first minute to the 95th. It's been a long six months for me and this is a dream, coming on in an FA Cup final and scoring the winner.

"The fans were unbelievable – 81,000 people in Wigan and we bring 30,000 here, so credit to them. From the chairman to the manager, the staff and the players, we've all worked so hard."

Watson believes his side can now escape the drop provided they can repeat their Cup final form against Arsenal and Aston Villa. He said: "We've got two massive games now to stay in the League and if we perform like that we'll be all right. We will crack on again tomorrow."

His team-mate James McCarthy hailed the management of Roberto Martinez. "I think the gaffer is a tactical genius," said the Republic of Ireland midfielder, "It's down to his tactics what we've done.

"It's an unbelievable achievement for the club. I'm totally speechless, to be honest. It's a dream come true, it's what you dream of as a kid."