Roy Hodgson hails Fulham's 'wonderful journey' to Europa League final

Wales international Simon Davies full of praise for 'modest' boss
Fulham manager Roy Hodgson has hailed the achievement of his side getting to the Europa League final, where they will take on Liverpool’s conquerors Atletico Madrid on May 12.

Hodgson has lauded the achievement of his side, who fell behind against Hamburg to a Mladen Petric free-kick, only for goals from Simon Davies and Hungarian international Zoltan Gera to secure their place in the final, due to be played at the HSH Nordbank Arena, home of the vanquished German club.

"I do know the club has had some bad times. It's been a wonderful journey, and it's an achievement as a coach I am very proud of. I have been lucky in my career with some lucky moments but the next one is the best one” said Hodgson.

And the Fulham boss, who took Inter to the final of the UEFA Cup in 1997, only to be defeated by Schalke 04, is delighted with the performances of his players during their 18 game journey to the final.

"To reach a European final, I don't care if you're a top-four team or Fulham, it's an amazing achievement. I know I'll remember this night and many nights like it.

"This team has produced better results and better football than we're entitled to. We are in the final for no other reason than we have played very well in some difficult games.

"We made a major piece of history here tonight. The atmosphere is something we will remember for a long time. I'm a little bit drained of emotion. You go through a roller coaster out there but cannot be more delighted than I am with the performance. The time at Fulham has been quite magical for me. I established a rapport with the chairman, who has been very good and given me the backing I needed.

"And the fans, right from the off, even during the moments when it was not going too well, were still behind us. That is reward for those fans who will now watch their team in the Europa League final."

The Fulham boss is also optimistic of having leading scorer Bobby Zamora fit to take on the likes of Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero and Jose Antonio Reyes.

"The injection [before the game] on Bobby worked quite well but he was beginning to feel the effects. Now we have two weeks to get [him] fit for the final."

Simon Davies, whose individual effort at Craven Cottage against Hamburg drew Fulham level on the night, has heaped praise on “modest” Roy Hodgson and the job he has done in turning Fulham from relegation battlers, into a side one game away from a first ever European trophy.

"It is hard to describe what an achievement it is to get a club like ours through to the Europa League final. The manager has done wonders with the club," the 30-year-old Wales international said.

"I have been here since he first came in, and as a team, we were really in a mess - we were struggling, conceding goal after goal.

"The first thing he worked on was our defensive shape, making us hard to beat and that carried us through to stay up and we have gone on from there."

Davies continued: "We have got a modest manager, and he wants us to be a modest team - we are always the underdogs, but that suits us.

"This season, he has rotated when he had to, made big decisions when they were needed.

"The manager has such a composure and he instils that composure into the team.

"When we go away, we are compact, can frustrate teams and are very hard to beat.

"However, when we can get the ball down, we can also play some good football.

"To come back from 1-0 down says a lot about the character of this side because we kept playing for the team, not just ourselves."

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