Wigan Athletic boss challenges IEC to buy Reece James!
Paul Cook jokingly challenged IEC to stump up the big bucks to buy Reece James after the 19-year-old received a standing ovation from Wigan Athletic's fans in the last minute of the season-ending 1-0 win over Millwall.
Joe Garner grabbed the only goal in the first half to ensure Latics finished an eventful campaign in 18th spot - a whopping TWELVE points clear of the drop zone.
And the afternoon ended amid emotional scenes as James - captain for the day - was applauded off by three-quarters of the DW Stadium in recognition of his efforts this term.
His manager, though, is seemingly not giving up hope of keeping him long term.
"We need to challenge the owners now to put up £40million to buy Reece," Cook laughed after the game.
"If not, that probably says we lack ambition as a club!
"Listen, Reece will get plenty of plaudits throughout his career, he's an absolutely fantastic young man.
"As a footballer he's absolutely top drawer, but off the field it's exactly the same.
"For a young man to come up to the north west from Chelsea and conduct himself the way he has, to not miss a single day's training...
"If every young man had his attitude and desire to be the best he can be, football would be in a far better place.
"We're just delighted to have played just a small part in what I'm sure will be a very big, successful career."
Despite dropping into the bottom three as recently as Good Friday, Latics finished comfortably clear of trouble in the end.
And the manner of which they tamed the Lions means Cook can head into summer in good spirits.
"I'm delighted for the players, I really am," he added.
"The home form's been so good, especially in the latter stages of the season.
"In fact, it's probably been up there with some of the teams that have made it to the play-offs.
"Unfortunately the away form - with the same players and the same habits - hasn't been as good, and that's been a challenge.
"But to end up with 52 points in this league, it's such a reward for the efforts we've put in as a group and a staff."