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Page last updated at 08:01 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 09:01 UK

Stephen McPhail to repay Cardiff City support

Coca Cola Championship play-off final - Blackpool v Cardiff City
Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: Saturday, 22 May Kick-off: 1500 BST
Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, live text commentary online and score updates on BBC Sport website, BBC Radio 5 live and highlights on The Football League Show

Stephen McPhail
Stephen McPhail has represented the Republic of Ireland ten times

Stephen McPhail hopes to inspire Cardiff City into the Premier League to repay their fans that helped inspire him through his "lowest point".

The Republic of Ireland midfielder had cancer treatment after being diagnosed with stage one MALT lymphoma after a lump was removed from his neck.

McPhail helped Cardiff beat Leicester on penalties to set up a Championship play-off final date with Blackpool.

"I'm anxious to give something back to the fans," McPhail told the BBC.

"They have helped me through my lowest point in my whole life so it all for them - and hopefully I'll make them proud in the final."

Cardiff will showdown with Blackpool in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on 22 May for a clash that has been described as the £90m game as that is the Premier League bonanza for the winner in the richest match in world football.

McPhail revealed he had a form of cancer in November, five weeks after he having surgery to remove a lump from his neck, and underwent radiotherapy treatment for the uncommon form of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

He missed three months of this difficult season for a Cardiff club that has also suffered off-the-field turmoil.

The 30-year-old helped Barnsley secure League One play-off glory and subsequent promotion to the Championship over Swansea City after a penalty shoot-out win at the Millennium Stadium.

And now McPhail hopes to win his second play-off final when he makes his third trip to Wembley with Cardiff on Saturday week as the 2008 FA Cup finalists hope to secure the biggest prize in world football.

McPhail has admitted how he was "blessed as the doctors caught it early" and how he was "taken aback" by the support and messages of goodwill during his illness.

It's swings and roundabouts. I was in the play-offs, got relegated and now am through to Wembley. You get lots of highs and lots of lows

Cardiff City captain Mark Hudson

And McPhail hailed the resilience and mettle his Cardiff team-mates showed in their extra-time win over Leicester in the play-off semi-final second leg on Wednesday in an all-round difficult season.

Cardiff lost 3-2 on the night but drew 3-3 with the Foxes on aggregate - coming back from a goal down to finally win on penalties.

"We kept plugging away and showed when we kept fighting to get the goal," said McPhail.

"It was an emotional, amazing night and dug deep again we needed to. We've had a lot of ups and downs this season but we're not where we want to be yet."

Blackpool has suffered one defeat in 11 while Cardiff have only two losses in 13 - but the Bluebirds are unbeaten against Blackpool in seven meetings.

Cardiff boss Dave Jones praised the character of his squad after qualifying for the Championship play-off final as many of whom had suffered footballing disappointments at the end of last season.

Aussie Jack

A host of Cardiff players suffered missing out on last year's play-offs by a solitary goal on the final day of last season with defeat at Sheffield Wednesday.

While goalkeeper David Marshall, Cardiff's play-off shootout hero saving two penalties, and captain Mark Hudson were relegated last season with Norwich City and Charlton Athletic respectively.

"I'd much rather be on this side of the tape for sure," said Hudson.

"It's swings and roundabouts. I was in the play-offs, got relegated and now am through to Wembley.

"It does happen in football, you get lots of highs and lots of lows. Hopefully we can end it on a high."

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see also
Cardiff ready for 'biggest' game
13 May 10 |  Championship
Cardiff 2-3 Leicester (agg 3-3)
12 May 10 |  Championship
Forest 3-4 Blackpool (agg 4-6)
11 May 10 |  Championship
Fantasy football for Cardiff
10 May 10 |  Cardiff
Leicester 0-1 Cardiff
09 May 10 |  Championship
McPhail hails Cardiff fan support
09 Feb 10 |  Cardiff
McPhail relishes playing return
09 Feb 10 |  Cardiff
McPhail missing for three months
10 Nov 09 |  Cardiff
McPhail to have cancer treatment
21 Nov 09 |  Cardiff
McPhail awaits tests on neck lump
16 Oct 09 |  Cardiff
Cardiff recruit Chopra & McPhail
14 Jun 06 |  Cardiff
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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