April 2008, The City of Manchester Stadium, and Fulham Football Club were 45 minutes away from being compounded to relegation from The Premier League as they trailed 2-0 to Manchester City.
45 minutes later and a stoppage time winner from Diomansy Kamara gave Fulham a dramatic 3-2 win over Sven Goran Eriksson’s men as The Cottagers paved a road to recovery. A scintillating run of form followed for their end of the season run in that ensured their top flight survival that season. Little did they know that 25 months on they were destined for greater things on the European continent.
Manager Roy Hodgson has to take most of the credit. He has taken a side who have achieved little more than mid table mediocrity for the majority of their top flight existence to the big dance of a European final. The former Internazionale boss took over the reins of the West London outfit as they were flirting with relegation to The Championship.
After steering them away from that, Hodgson’s job became even more remarkable as he guided his Fulham players to achieve their highest ever league position of 7th which also saw them qualify for the newly revamped Europa League. 11 months on, Fulham Football Club have wrote another chapter in their Cinderella story under Hodgson as a 2-1 aggregate win over German giants Hamburg in a European semi final has booked his side a golden ticket to The Europa League Final.
The greatest night at Craven Cottage saw the modest West London outfit become immortal in front of their adoring fans. Never before had The Lily Whites quite experienced a thrill like this. Many thought that this European campaign was little more than a cameo role for the English side, but conquering clubs with the stature of Italian giants Juventus, German Champions Wolfsburg and the reigning UEFA Cup winners Shakhtar Donetsk, yearned believe from everyone connected with the football club that this isn’t just a dream, it is a reality.
No longer will Fulham FC be associated with modesty and mediocrity. If ever a more proud and honest club deserve its spotlight in front of the eyes of the world, then none is more deserving than that of The Whites of West London. The penultimate chapter is set for May 12th in Hamburg as Atletico Madrid stand in the way of Fulham and their fairytale ending.