WIGAN Athletic fans paid tribute to club captain and legend Emmerson Boyce at a surprise ‘This Is Your Life’ event at the DW Stadium.
More than 300 supporters turned up, plus a host of past players and managers, to show their appreciation for a man who will go down in Latics folklore.
Boyce has completed nine years at the club but is now out-of-contract at the DW Stadium with his future unknown.
To commemorate his extraordinary service, Wigan fan Barry Worthington took it upon himself to organise a night which the Wigan skipper later declared as one he’ll “never forget”.
Boyce arrived at the stadium’s Marquee suite expecting to be attending a charity function but was moved to tears when he was greeted by a packed room of supporters singing his name.
He was then guided on stage where host Martyn Ode read from a big red book – a la Eamonn Andrews and Michael Aspel – about his life from being a young centre-forward in Aylesbury to an FA Cup winning captain with Wigan.
A number of former team-mates turned up to the event including Maynor Figueroa, Michael Brown and Emile Heskey as well as members of the Latics coaching staff.
Chairman David Sharpe also took to the stage and gave hope to supporters that Boyce may stick around for his 10th year by revealing that the two parties were due to sit down and hold talks.
Ex-Latics ‘keeper Chris Kirkland was one of many to pay tribute to Boyce on stage.
He said: “I’ve played with some great players over the years, and there haven’t been many better than Boycey.”
He has been an incredible ambassador for the football club and I was very proud to share some of the best times the town of Wigan has knownRoberto Martinez
It wasn’t just those with Wigan connections who attended neither.
Boyce’s cousin and QPR star Matty Phillips spoke highly of his relative as he sat amongst many members of their family.
The 36-year-old’s former manager at Crystal Palace Iain Dowie also attended and spoke of his admiration.
He said: “Everyone spoke about Andy Johnson at Crystal Palace, but Emmerson Boyce was our best player.”
Many more who couldn’t make the night pre-recorded video messages.
One of those was former manager Roberto Martinez, who said: “He has been an incredible ambassador for the football club and I was very proud to share some of the best times the town of Wigan has known.
“Every fan will have their favourite memory, and mine was seeing him lead out the team at Wembley for the FA Cup final with Joseph in his arms. An incredible human touch followed by an incredible footballing performance to put the name of Wigan Athletic on the trophy.”
Another was Antolin Alcaraz, who is with Martinez at Everton. He echoed the sentiments of thousands of Latics fans with regards to Boyce’s future, saying: “I hope he has many great years left at Wigan.”
One of the most emotional tributes came from Boyce’s adoring wife Lucy, who he arrived with alongside children Jayden, Kylan and Amaya.
With a proud smile, she said: “He’s a great husband, a great dad and the perfect role model to our children.”
Don’t miss photo specials of the event in Friday’s Wigan Evening Post and next week’s Wigan Observer.