WIGAN boss Roberto Martinez hailed his side's great escape from relegation, declaring after the Latics' 1-0 win at Stoke: "It's like winning a trophy."
Jubilant Martinez watched Hugo Rodallega nod a 59th-minute winner to secure top-flight survival after a dramatic afternoon in the drop zone.
Martinez said: "It's like winning a trophy - that's the way I feel. I'm extremely proud of this group of players and their achievement is phenomenal.
"We haven't chosen the easy route and it's a great feeling because this squad has been written off so many times in this campaign.
"We knew we had the talent but in the last two games we had to show more than that.
"We were 2-0 down against West Ham and we needed a reaction and people with real responsibility and bravery.
"Again today we weren't ourselves in the first half and we had to defend for our lives. I am probably prouder of that side of the two performances.
"It was clear we were getting frustrated and we had to deal with that frustration. In the second half it became a little easier and we scored a very good goal."
Martinez went on to pay tribute to the three relegated sides - West Ham, Blackpool and Birmingham - insisting the survival margin was small that no club deserved to go down.
"I don't think there were any bad sides who went down," added Martinez. "To get relegated on 39 points is harsh. It is the small margins that go with you and against you."
Martinez embraced Latics chairman Dave Whelan at the final whistle and added: "To get a seventh season in the Premier League is a tribute to the chairman.
"The chairman is on cloud nine. He is an inspiration for everyone at the club and sometimes that puts you under extra pressure because you don't want to let him down."
Stoke boss Tony Pulis insisted Martinez's men "rode their luck" to claim the points they needed to secure survival as his side's season ended on a disappointing note.
Pulis said: "We took the first half and it was really disappointing that we didn't come in winning the game.
"They rode their luck a little bit in certain areas and there were some generous decisions that also went their way - but I've got to be careful not to incur the wrath of the FA.
"In the first 20 minutes of the second half we were poor. We started as if the game had already been won and it was all over.
"Wigan were fighting for their lives and although we got some balls in the box we never look scoring in the second half.
"It's gone Wigan's way - they rode their luck and good luck to them."