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Page last updated at 20:29 GMT, Saturday, 17 May 2008 21:29 UK

Survival beats Cup win - Redknapp


Redknapp dedicates Pompey's FA Cup win to his family

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp said rescuing Pompey from the brink of relegation two seasons ago was a bigger feat than winning the FA Cup.

Redknapp won the first major trophy of his footballing career thanks to Kanu's solitary strike against Cardiff.

But the manager said: "It's a great day in terms of there is glory in winning but, in football terms, keeping Portsmouth up was a bigger achievement.

"It's a dream come true to win the FA Cup. It has been a good day."

Redknapp was re-appointed Portsmouth manager in December 2005, after a spell at arch-rivals Southampton, with the club languishing six points from safety after a 3-1 defeat at Tottenham in his first game back.

The south coast side recorded just two league wins in Redknapp's first 13 games in charge but somehow managed to miraculously maintain their Premier League status.

"It wasn't easy and I have no doubt if we had gone down I wouldn't be here now talking about an FA Cup final win," said Redknapp.

Now, two years on, they are FA Cup winners thanks to Kanu's first-half strike at Wembley.

I thought when he missed the first chance it could be costly but he keeps on going

Redknapp on Kanu

The all-important goal came when Cardiff goalkeeper Peter Enckelman spilled John Utaka's cross, allowing Kanu to tuck the ball home from four yards.

"He has been great for us," said Redknapp of his match-winner.

"That's a semi-final and a final he has won with his goals and yet when I signed him at the start of last season on a free transfer from West Brom people said I was mad.

"I thought when he missed the first chance it could be costly but he keeps on going, keeps on trying to do the right things and he's a big plus for us."

Redknapp insisted that Enkelman should not be blamed for the goal and paid tribute to Portsmouth's Championship opponents.

"Cardiff put us under a lot of pressure and we had to deal with difficult situations. My defence was fantastic," he said.

"They did really well, especially on set-pieces. For me the biggest feeling is one of relief. There are no easy games any more.

"But when we get in front - with Sol Campbell, David James, Sylvan Distin, Heidar Hreidarsson and Glen Johnson - we're a difficult side to break down. It was important to come here and get the win. "

David James salutes Redknapp

Victorious goalkeeper David James insisted Redknapp deserved the plaudits that would now inevitably follow.

"Harry's a legend now, isn't he?" said James. "It was a hard game today, a bit scrappy, but we deserved to win."

Striker Kanu said triumphing in the FA Cup final with Portsmouth was more special than his two victories with Arsenal as he started the game and played such a crucial role.

"The is the best moment of my life," he revealed. "I feel good, I feel happy. I missed a good chance but I am one of the experienced players and you have to keep going.

"When we have the fans behind us we keep on going for them."

Midfielder Sulley Muntari said he knew Portsmouth would win the Cup after they defeated Manchester United in the quarter-finals.

"It started with the Manchester United game. It gave us confidence winning there," said the Ghanaian.

"We knew that was a big result and we could win the Cup from that point. Now we have the Cup.

Being in Europe means a lot to the players because most of them haven't been there or won medals

Match-winner Kanu

"We knew we were going to win it. We have all the players and all the possibilities. We were nervous a little bit but we knew if we played well we could win."

After playing enough games this season to trigger a one-year contract extension, Kanu now wants to lead Pompey for their European campaign.

"I love the supporters and I want to be part of the team that plays in the Uefa Cup," he said.

"Being in Europe means a lot to the players because most of them haven't been there or won medals."

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see also
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BBC pundits on the FA Cup final
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