ROBERTO Martinez called Wigan Athletic’s latest Great Escape “an incredible achievement” after seeing his side secure an eighth successive season of Premier League football.
Antolin Alcaraz’s late goal was enough to ensure a sixth win in eight games, a run that has seen Latics drag themselves off the canvas and keep their heads above water.
It means Sunday’s visit of already-relegated Wolves – which has looked for most of the campaign like being another all-or-nothing encounter – is now effectively a dead rubber.
And it’s an opportunity for the people of Wigan to welcome their side home for the mother of all survival parties.
“It was incredible, it is an incredible achievement,” gushed Martinez, who laughed off talk he would be leaving Wigan this summer.
“And they all deserve this incredible achievement.
“Eight seasons in the Premier League is something remarkable for our football club, and I think it is time to celebrate.
“For Blackburn and ourselves it was a tough game, we saw all the results come in on Sunday and for the players it was a tough event to be involved in.
“We had to cope with the mental side of things. But I thought we coped really well.
“We weren’t our normal fluent selves, Blackburn made it difficult for us, but to come here and hold our nerve, and not panic, shows a real mature side of the squad.”
Latics looked dead and buried at the midway point of the campaign, but a remarkable second half has seen them defy the critics once again.
“I always had the belief because I know the players and we did it last season,” the Spaniard added.
“We have a young group with real energy. In our case, the youth and bravery we have in the young players allowed us to finish really strong.
“That was always in my mind, but more than anything it is the characters in the club.
“We have got 12 or 13 different nationalities in that dressing room but they have got a real responsibility.
“They want to represent Wigan in the right manner, and their standards on a daily basis are what you have seen on the pitch.
“To get the results we have of late and achieve something not many people predicted we would in December.
“I think we are a nightmare for pundits in world football.”