Sam Allardyce has called his time as Bolton Wanderers manager the greatest journey of his life.
After winning promotion to the Premiership in 2001, the 63-year-old turned the Whites from top-flight strugglers into European contenders during his eight-and-a-half years with the club.
Going on to manage Newcastle United, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United, Sunderland and Crystal Palace, as well the England national team, since departing the Reebok Stadium ten years, it is his time with Bolton that Allardyce looks back on most fondly.
Content with being out of work since leaving Selhurst Park at the end of last season, and ten years on from his departure from the Trotters, the former England head coach recently shared his pride at what he achieved at Wanderers when reflecting on his managerial career.
“When I got there, the club was clearly in a bad position, which is why I was given the job,” Allardyce told Paddy Power. “When I think back at how we ended up eight years later, it honestly was the greatest journey of my life as a football manager.
“It was the club which allowed me to fulfil my childhood dreams essentially, a dream which thousands and thousands of young lads have – of being a professional footballer.
“To then get the chance to go back and manage there, too. That was unbelievable.
“It doesn’t beat playing – because that’s your childhood dream – but to get that success at Bolton, with some of the players we got to bring to the club and the type of football we played, to qualify for Europe, winning a play-off final, reaching Wembley - it was just one great journey after another.”
He continued: “You’re just so focused on making that club successful because it means so much to you.
“Week to week, month to month, season to season, you’re so driven to making that club better and more successful.
“I made some amazing signings during my time at the club. Most of those players were dying to move to the Premier League, it’s the best league in the entire world and everyone knows that.
“Of course, when we managed to stay up and achieved moderate success, more and more of those players wanted to stay at Bolton.
“Because of the players we already had, this was such an attraction for so many of the biggest names. Bolton itself too, we had such a good reputation at the time.
“That’s where we did really well in signing those players of such great quality throughout Europe.
“They came and they really enjoyed the football we were playing. Add to that the fact that we really loved working with them, too. It was a win-win.
“The club had such a fantastic period of time which the fans won’t forget.”