Frank Lampard has declared keeping Everton in the Premier League as “one of the greatest moments of my footballing life and career”.
Everton came from 2-0 down to beat Crystal Palace 3-2 on Thursday – a result which guaranteed their survival after a tense relegation battle.
Lampard enjoyed a stellar playing career, which saw him make 106 international appearances for England and perform at three World Cups.
At club level, Lampard won 13 trophies with Chelsea, including three Premier League titles and one Champions League.
But the 43-year-old, who has been in charge at Goodison Park since January 31, ranks keeping Everton up as one of his career highlights.
He told BBC Sport: “It is one of the greatest moments of my footballing life and career.
“I have been very fortunate to have amazing times, especially at Chelsea as a player and a coach.
“But when you feel the feelings and desperation of what relegation brings to the table, it is different. You need to dig in. You lose games, you fight to do something and then you lose another game.
“People think you should fly up the table and it is never that way. Coming in here three and a half months ago with my amazing staff, positive people who work so hard, and trying to affect things and getting a reaction from the players, from the fans and feeling unity when it looked split. This club is special and I am proud to be manager of Everton on this night.
“I thought I might cry [at full-time], I thought I might jump out of my body. Nobody can question the celebrations at the end. It is easy to say ‘but you haven’t won anything’. You know what, come and work at this club for a few months and see the difficulties and what it means to people to stay in this league.
“See us 2-0 down at half-time, playing poorly, ridiculous second goal and then see the character they showed. See the fans on the pitch in good heart and spirit. They have pulled us over the line, they have been more than a 12th man. But the players also deserve huge credit. An amazing night.”
Lampard made a key substitution at half time when he introduced Dele Alli in place of Andre Gomes.
“Dele was brilliant when he came on,” said Lampard added. “He changed the game individually.”
He added: “I can’t take too much credit. I didn’t come up with some new magical tactics. We went direct, but no problem in this position. But we relied on the players.”
Everton go to Arsenal on the final day and could possibly climb above Southampton to finish the season in 16th place if they win or draw.