Enfield Town boss George Borg insists helping his side avoid relegation on the final day of the season is the best achievement of his 30-year managerial career.
Borg has never been relegated as a manager but this record looked in doubt when he took over the Towners at the end of last year.
But Enfield were galvanised under him and needed a crucial 2-1 win at Cray Wanderers on Saturday which ensured they avoided relegation from the Ryman Premier Division.
The Towners boss said: “It is by far the biggest achievement I’ve had as a manager because we had to build a side from December.
“I’ve won six championships including at Conference South level and kept Boreham Wood up twice. But I’ve never been in this position before with a team that couldn’t buy a win.
“When I took over they were getting relegated. There were two or three board members who thought we needed a miracle and they were already planning for us going down.
“But I just wanted it so badly for these players and supporters and did not want to ever get relegated.”
Borg did not intend to get back into management but admits the challenge of keeping Enfield up convinced him to take up the role.
He said: “It was always going to be a difficult job but it was a personal challenge for me.
“It was a difficult time to come in but it was the only club I would come back for because I really love the supporters.
“I always knew that it would go down to the wire but it is a huge sigh of relief now that we have stayed up.”
Borg celebrated after the game with the players while the supporters came on the pitch and into the dressing room to enjoy their feat.
The Enfield Town boss could not hide his respect for the squad, who had picked up just 13 points from 19 games prior to his arrival, after they won seven of their last 15 games to avoid the drop.
Borg said: “I’ve just got so much admiration and pride in this bunch of players. We are going to have a great summer and the togetherness at this football club is something very special.
“It was just brilliant to see everyone celebrating at the end of the match and the players have been absolutely magnificent.”
He added: “It was a pressure cooker out there on Saturday but all of my lads were lions.
“We lost 5-3 at home last week and had to bounce back but all of the boys were absolutely outstanding and I’ve got nothing but praise for them.”
It did not look good for the Towners early on when they trailed at relegated Cray after ten minutes as Paul Vines fired past young keeper James Chalk.
The visitors suffered another setback against Cray when a dangerous challenge injured Chalk and he was taken off.
This meant defender Lee White was forced in goal as Town lost their second keeper in three games.
Enfield grabbed a vital equaliser six minutes before the break when Jordan Lockie rifled the ball home at the far post.
Borg’s side nearly grabbed the lead before half-time but Ryan Doyle’s header was deflected onto the bar.
With Wingate & Finchley and Thurrock both winning the pressure was growing on Town at the bottom of the league.
The decisive goal came after 74 minutes when Doyle fired home the winner for the visitors on a dramatic final day.
Borg, whose side finished two points above relegated Wingate, said: “You couldn’t write the script on that final day but we knew that no-one would do us any favours.
“We were determined to win the game and knew we had to do it ourselves so it was pointless going for a draw.
“Going 1-0 down and losing our keeper didn’t help us but everyone in the team deserves credit for the way they responded.”
Borg, who celebrated with a bottle of red wine, expects the team to enjoy a much better year next season.
He said: “We will have a nice, fun season next year and I hope we will do a lot better at the start.”