EMMERSON Boyce has revealed the rollercoaster of emotions he has gone through both on and off the pitch which culminated in the unbridled joy of securing Premier League survival with Wigan on Bank Holiday Monday.
The defender has been one of Wigan boss Roberto Martinez’s key players as they shocked everyone but themselves in clawing their way to safety with an astonishing upturn in form and fortune.
Wins against Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle hauled Aylesbury-born Boyce and his teammates off the bottom of the table.
And they sealed safety for another season with victory over Blackburn on Monday evening, consigning their opponents to the drop in the process.
Eight weeks ago, with Wigan proppoing up the rest of England’s elite and a daunting run of fixtures looming, Boyce boldly told The Bucks Herald he still genuinely believed they would turn things around.
Few outside the Wigan dressing room shared his optimism, but how the former Quarrendon School pupil has been proved right.
“People wrote us off at the start of the season and said we were definitely going down,” Boyce said on Tuesday.
“But we had belief and we have done things the hard way, but we always had that belief.
“Thankfully now we can enjoy the last game of the season.
“For me we had been playing well but just not scoring goals, the performances have always been there and recently we’ve added the goals and you’ve seen teams just haven’t been able to live with our formation.”
So what was the turning point?
“Chelsea away, I think. We lost 2-1, but should have won the game, there were the two offside goals but that game was the key.”
The former Luton Town and Crystal Palace favourite spoke candidly about what has been an emotional season for him both on and off the pitch.
It was a season which saw him score in his 150th match, become Wigan’s all-time appearance record holder, be applauded off the pitch at Anfield and boyhood club Arsenal after stunning wins and his wife give birth to a baby girl.
But it was also a year where he suffered the trauma of losing his grandmother before the win at Anfield and one of his young sons hospitalised on a ventilator for several days.
“It’s been a crazy year, a very emotional one for myself and the club.
“I scored on my 150th appearance at Fulham, broke the appearance record which was good because we’ve had several managers come and go and I’ve always managed to hang in there.
“I’ve had a little girl but my grandmother passed away and my boy was in hospital for a few days and it was very serious and really difficult but thankfully he is OK.
“Now with staying up, I’ve experienced every emotion possible I think,” he added.
Boyce’s season in summary... best match? “Arsenal away, I think. To win at my boyhood club, with my brothers there watching and with the form they were in at the time and the fact we had to really dig in made it a great team performance.”
Best player played with? “Victor Moses – raw talent and chipped in with some important goals.”
Best player played against? “Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle) for me – very sharp, decent, skilful and amazing movement.”