'Proudest I've been in my career' - Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips reacts to South Shields promotion

Delighted Kevin Phillips has spoken of his pride after his South Shields side secured promotion to the National League North thanks to their 1-0 win over Whitby Town on Easter Monday.
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The promotion sees the Mariners reach their highest division since they were reformed 49 years ago and the Sunderland legend has been reflecting on a job well done since being handed the job by chairman Geoff Thompson.

Shields sealed their fate with two games to go, which will be a relief after falling at the final hurdle last season.

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And Phillips was full of praise for his squad after the game, he said: “Of course, absolutely delighted, delighted with everybody in that changing room.

The South Shields players and staff celebrate promotion. Picture by Kevin Wilson.The South Shields players and staff celebrate promotion. Picture by Kevin Wilson.
The South Shields players and staff celebrate promotion. Picture by Kevin Wilson.

"They're the ones that have got us promoted. You know me and the staff we prepare them, we organise them but ultimately as you've seen, when they cross that white line it's over to them.

"I'm so proud of every single person in that dressing room.

"They have put a shift in, on a heavy pitch, against a team that killed us last season, took points off us at the same stage and we were not going to let that happen."

The proud Shields boss took the moment as an opportunity to hit back at some of the criticism he and his side have faced this season.

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He added: “We've come in for some criticism this year, which I think is very unjustified, you're not going to win every game.

“The challenges we come up against week in and week out is with South Shields we bring big away followings to an away game, we get two, two and a half thousand at home, teams raise their levels.

“So, for me that's more testament to our players because they stood up to it all season and we won the league with two games to go, so it's a massive credit to them.”

This is Phillips’ first job in management since his playing career and he ranks this above anything he achieved on the pitch.

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Phillips added: “That's the proudest I've been in my career because I took on a challenge 18-months ago when I came up here on my own with my mate Keith and as we all well know that I lost him very early on in my time here and it broke me.

“So I had to recollect and gather my thoughts. Obviously I had the disappointment of not going up last season and you know I had a decision of what I wanted to do but I thought no, I owe it to South Shields to build my squad and try and challenge this year.

“Massive thanks to Geoff for backing me, letting me get the players I wanted and I've said to everyone you know as much as I do get criticised and I still get criticised you know I said judge me at the end of this season when I've got my own squad.

"I think anyone can say what they want now because ultimately I've got South Shields promoted and you know it's an amazing feeling.”