Ian Holloway hopes to convince Kevin Phillips to stay and play Premier League football for Crystal Palace after the 39-year-old's nerveless extra-time penalty won the Championship play-off final for them.
Phillips, a second-half substitute, scored the only goal of the afternoon after 104 minutes and said afterwards that it might have been his last kick in professional football. But the Palace manager Holloway, who brought Phillips on loan from Blackpool in January, said he hoped the veteran striker would keep playing.
"I'll keep signing him until he's nearly 50 or 60 if he keeps putting the ball in the net," said Holloway afterwards. "I do not understand why anyone is surprised about Kevin Phillips. He can keep on going as long as he wants. His game is unique; he finds space.
"If I had to put everything I own on someone smacking the ball in the net, it would have been Kevin. It is his enthusiasm that he needs to keep, that little spark, the jiggle. I've still got mine I hope he's still got his."
Phillips is now out of contract and turns 40 in July. He said afterwards he had not decided whether he would carry on playing. "If that is my last game, what a way to sign off," Phillips said. "I'm going to have a break now. Every bit of my body is aching. I'll see what the future brings. I want to stay in the game, whether it be playing or coaching. This club can go from strength to strength. I do not know if I will carry on."
Holloway also praised Wilfried Zaha, who now leaves the club to join Manchester United and who won the penalty with a burst of pace which drew a foul from Marco Cassetti: "Games like that are won and lost on moments of genius and I think Wilf's little run was almost unplayable. I'm pleased for him and delighted for Crystal Palace."
Holloway, who won his second play-off promotion after victory in the 2010 final with Blackpool, said Palace would have a busy summer ahead. "We need to do an awful lot of work now," he said but added: "It is not how much you spend on the group but what is inside their heart and how they want to work for you. For me they are Palace heroes." Holloway also played down the prospect of asking the new United manager David Moyes for Zaha on loan again next year.
Palace can expect to make at least £120m in additional income thanks to the result. New television deals worth £5.5bn come into effect next season, meaning increased money for the 20 teams, and even if Palace are relegated they will receive four years of parachute payments.
Gianfranco Zola said that Watford would continue to improve, after the first season under the ownership of the Pozzo family ended in disappointment. "This is not the end of the road for us, this is just the beginning. It has been a big bonus for us to be playing this game today. It has been a great season, next season we're going to be stronger, 100 per cent. I enjoy what I'm doing here, I am going to make sure even my contribution is going to be better next year. Now we know where we are going and have a very good platform to start from."