Wigan just ninety minutes from Europe

Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles
Wigan goalkeeper Joel Robles

WIGAN Athletic are 90 minutes away from playing European football next season after an historic and quite unbelievable weekend.

First, Latics demolished Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday afternoon to reach the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time.

Then, last night, they discovered their opponents at Wembley will be either Millwall or Blackburn, who replay on Wednesday after a goalless draw.

With Manchester City drawing either Manchester United or Chelsea in the other semi - and all three sides certain to qualify for Europe via the league – it means the Europa League spot for the FA Cup will go to either Latics, Millwall or Blackburn.

Possibly the only man not taken aback by the weekend’s events was Dave Whelan, who revealed on Saturday that he’d dreamt Latics would beat Everton before playing Rovers, his old club, in the last four.

And boss Roberto Martinez was quick to dedicate Wigan’s achievement in reaching Wembley to Whelan, without whom none of this would have been possible.

“The chairman has given us all this opportunity to live this dream, and I hope he’ll take a special moment to enjoy the weekend,” Martinez told the Evening Post.

“I spoke to him briefly after the final whistle on Saturday, and it was a very emotional moment.

“He’s created the incredible story that is Wigan Athletic, and we all felt as though we could give him something back.

“To take the club to Wembley in a competition he has so much history in personally is something very special. It’s a great honour and a proud moment for me to be able to help take Wigan Athletic to Wembley.

“You are involved in football for days like this, and I also know how much Wembley means to the fans. This one is for them as well.”

Whelan himself looked close to tears in the immediate aftermath of the Goodison Park victory.

“It’s fantastic to be back at Wembley after all this time,” acknowledged Whelan, who broke his leg in the 1960 FA Cup final that Blackburn lost to Wolves.

“I had a dream that Wigan Athletic would beat Everton and play Blackburn Rovers in the semi-final at Wembley.

“We’ve kept our end of the bargain, and I hope Rovers can keep theirs.

“To go to Wembley and be carried off with a broken leg was soul-destroying.

“I’ve cried many times over that day, but I’m back on my feet now and looking forward so much to going back.”

The semi-finals will take place on the weekend of April 13/14, with ticket details to be released when the exact schedule is known.