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Sam Allardyce remembers Bolton's play-off triumph against Preston North End

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Sam Allardyce has named Wanderers’ win against Preston in the 2001 First Division play-off final as one of the most important games of his career in management.

Allardyce’s men ran out 3-0 winners at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff thanks to goals from Gareth Farrelly, Michael Ricketts and Ricardo Gardner.

The former Bolton chief admits he wasn’t sure if his squad was strong enough to win promotion following the departures of Eidur Gudjohnsen among others.

But Allardyce is proud of how they pulled together to get the job done and says it was a “special” game.

“I started my playing career at Bolton as a 15-year-old, so becoming manager, getting to the play-offs and beating Preston in Cardiff was special,” he told FourFourTwo.

"We didn’t think we’d do it that season because we had sold some of our best players in Eidur Gudjohnsen, Claus Jensen and Mark Fish.

"But we pulled together loan players and players who had fallen out with other clubs, and got promoted.”

Allardyce’s Bolton career began as a player and he was part of the squad that won the Second Division title under Ian Greaves in 1978, forming an effective partnership with Paul Jones at the heart of defence.

He later returned as a manager and was responsible for arguably the club’s most successful spell in their recent history, having become established in the top flight and even earning European qualification.

Allardyce went on to take charge of more than 1,000 games throughout his career, having spells with Everton, West Ham and Newcastle among others.

He was back at the UniBol for Gethin Jones’ MND appeal last year, managing a team of legends against Ian Evatt’s current first-team squad.

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Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly

Michael Johansen was another one who left in the summer of 2000. I remember he missed one of the penalties in the FA Cup semi final that Dean Holdsworth gets all the flak for


Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

That was a great day. I remember being very nervous about the game beforehand, not just because Preston were a good team but because of the importance of the match and wondering if we'd get another chance to climb back - and whether we'd lose more good players if we didn't.
Gareth Farrelly's goal eased the tension but they had a shedload of chances to equalise before Ricketts' late goal and Ricardo's cherry on top.


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