With goals from Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman helping Wigan Athletic FC past Millwall FC on Saturday, a new chapter was being written in the club's 81-year history as they sealed a place in their first FA Cup final.
With victories against former FA Cup winners Everton FC and Huddersfield Town AFC in previous rounds, it is yet another achievement for the Latics, who have come a long way since joining the Football League 35 years ago in 1978. Yet to lift a major trophy, the closest the north-west side have managed was reaching the English League Cup final in 2006, only to lose 4-0 to Manchester United FC. With United's derby rivals, and current Premier League champions, Manchester City FC the team Wigan will face on 11 May it will be no easy task at Wembley, but making the final is momentous in itself.
"I don't think it has sunk in yet, it is an incredible feeling, one that everyone associated with the club will share," said manager Roberto Martínez. "The overall team performance was quite outstanding and the behaviour of everyone representing the club was exceptional."
Wigan's previous best was getting to the competition's last eight in 1986/87, but the prize of making the last two this season is doubly significant – bringing the club European football for the first time whatever the result, with City set to qualify through their Premier League position. The UEFA Europa League beckons.
The showpiece will also be an emotional occasion for chairman Dave Whelan, who took charge in 1995 when the team were in the fourth tier of English football. The 76-year-old will lead the side out at Wembley for the final, something he last experienced in 1960 when as a 23-year-old full-back with Blackburn Rovers FC he suffered a career-ending leg break in a 3-0 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.
"It is going to be really special for me," he said. "Looking on the pitch at Wembley I know exactly where I broke my leg. Nothing makes up for losing in a cup final but this is another step in history. Wigan, coming from the Lancashire leagues, we have got to the Premier League and, yes, we will be in Europe and it will be another part of history."
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