Football - Holloway hails Palace heroes

Ian Holloway praised his Crystal Palace heroes and Kevin Phillips in particular after the veteran striker fired the Eagles into the Barclays Premier League at Wembley.

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Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha celebrates winning the Football League Championship play off final

Phillips' extra-time penalty earned Palace a 1-0 win over Watford and promotion from the npower Championship in a game where £120million was at stake.

Now Holloway, who led Blackpool to the Premier League with victory in the 2010 play-off final, will seek to mastermind top-flight survival at Selhurst Park.

Rather than be too concerned about the recruitment possibilities from the enhanced revenue, Holloway focused on his playing group.

"How much you spend on your group isn't always what gives you," Holloway said.

"It's what's inside their hearts and how much they work for you.

"I've been very fortunate that both teams that have done it for me, I was privileged to have worked with them. To me they're Palace heroes."

With leading goalscorer Glen Murray injured, Phillips stepped up in his fourth play-off final to send Palace back to the top flight.

The 39-year-old had suffered play-off final heartache for Sunderland, West Brom and Blackpool, but had Holloway's backing.

"If I had to put everything I own on someone smacking it in the net, then I'd put it on Kev," Holloway said.

Phillips is on loan from Blackpool, where his contract expires imminently, and Holloway would happily sign the striker once again.

"I'll keep signing him until he's nearly 50 or 60, if he keeps putting the ball in the net," the Palace boss said.

"The difficult thing for Kev is living in a hotel once or twice a week because he doesn't need to move his family any more. That's what you lose; you lose that desire.

"So I don't train him every day. My lads accept that because they know what he does when he does turn up.

"It's his enthusiasm that he needs to keep. It's that little spark inside him, that jiggle. That's what I want to keep.

"It's your soul inside you. That little vibe when you get up in the morning. I've still got mine. Hopefully he's still got his.

"I can't wait to see him again and thank him for how well he's played for me."

Phillips' decisive strike came in the 105th minute, with Holloway having already determined his penalty takers.

The spot-kick was earned when £15m winger Wilfred Zaha bamboozled the Watford defence for the umpteenth time and was brought down by Marco Cassetti.

Holloway is tempted to ask new Manchester United boss David Moyes if he can borrow Zaha next season.

"I think he'd be silly to give me him back," Holloway said.

"Now we're up it might be realistic, but who knows?

"He (Moyes) will know the task he's got. Mine will be staying up, his will be winning every week. Good luck to him and good luck to us."

Holloway's focus is now on keeping Palace in the top-flight, having overcome the critics who felt the Eagles would lose to Brighton in the play-off semi-finals.

Holloway said: "Everybody wrote us off, everybody. In a two-horse race there was one horse. We had no chance at Brighton away.

"We had enough match winners in our team that would cause a few problems. I've got to make sure we've got that next year.

"It all starts now for me because the minute we kick off next we're on a hiding to nothing, so we've got to make sure we can compete and I want to stay there."

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