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31 October 2009 @ 08:50 am
Finnan: Pain of relegation never leaves you  
This was published two days ago:

Finnan: Pain of relegation never leaves you

He's toasted triumphs in the Champions League, FA Cup and European Super Cup. He's worn winners' crowns from the first division, second division and third division. Steve Finnan, far right, has been synonymous with success, glory and fulfilling footballing dreams.

But it's the painful scars of relegation which refuse to heal, even to this day. And the 33-year-old has no intention of opening old wounds now he's back in the Premier League with Pompey. Nor does he think he will do.

Finnan made 216 appearances during a trophy-laden Liverpool career. He also won two promotions with Fulham and one with Notts County.

Yet, it was with the latter club where he also experienced the agony of relegation for the first and only time in his career.

He was part of the Magpies side which lost in the division two play-offs in 1995-96 – only to be demoted the following campaign. Under Sam Allardyce, they finished bottom of the table with just seven wins – Finnan an ever-present.

It's a far cry from the lashings of silverware which would await in future years.

Now back in the top-flight following a disappointing spell with Espanyol, the right-back finds himself in familiar surroundings. Pompey are bottom of the Premier League after 10 games, with a crucial match against Wigan on the horizon. Only this time he remains supremely confident his club can haul themselves clear and pull off survival. After all, he doesn't want to endure that Notts County agony all over again.

He said: 'There are different pressures at different clubs, such as trying to stay in the league, winning it or whatever. But I suppose there's always one aim, which is basically to win as many games as you can. At Fulham, we had a couple of promotions and then one season in the Premier League where we could have gone down. It wasn't in these circumstances, it was probably the last six, seven, eight games where we were out of it. The only time I have actually been relegated before was Notts County and I can tell you it's a really bad feeling, not nice, not at all.

'It was 12 years ago now and I still remember it. It doesn't go away, not even now. Obviously, it's not a nice feeling for anyone involved. Whether it be the players, staff, fans, it's a terrible feeling. But having experienced that already, you can try to help and make sure it doesn't happen again. As a player, it's definitely a feeling you don't want. Until you've had that you don't realise how bad it really is. This time around, though, everyone at the club believes we can get out of it and it's a case of having to pick up the points to make sure we do.

'In football there is always an aim, always a target whether it be trophies or staying in the league. Always something to work for. We all know the circumstances of what we need to do here and stay in the Premier League. And there's a good enough squad here to stay there.'

Finnan is now over the hamstring problem he picked up during pre-season, a fru-strating inj-ury which kept him out for almost three months. Since then he's started the past three league matches – a return which has coincided with a haul of four points from three matches and two clean sheets. The former Republic of Ireland international was among those rested for the 4-0 hammering of Stoke on Tuesday night. But he'll be back for Saturday's vital clash with Wigan.

He added: 'I need more games. I don't know when I'll be 100 per cent. But the more games I play, obviously, the more match fitness I get. I missed a lot of football last year as well so it will take a bit of time – but the more games I play the better.'
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