Boyce: It's a dream come true
Wigan captain Emmerson Boyce described his side's FA Cup semi-final victory over Millwall as a "dream come true'' after they won 2-0 at Wembley.
Wigan reached the FA Cup final for the first time in the club's history as goals in either half from Shaun Maloney and Callum McManaman saw them past the Championship opposition.
"It's amazing, a dream come true for the club and the fans,'' Boyce told ESPN. "People have said a lot about the fans but they were excellent today. I want to say thank you too to the chairman... there are too many people to say thank you to. I can't wait for the final now. The chairman has been a long time waiting for this too. The manager has been excellent. The whole team has been excellent.''
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan had his playing career ended when he broke his leg in the 1960 FA Cup final - a match his Blackburn side went on to lose 3-0 to Wolves.
Although Maloney gave Wigan the lead after 25 minutes, they could not kill off the game until McManaman's strike 12 minutes from time.
"We always knew Millwall were going to be a tough game,'' Boyce said. "They had good opportunities and could have scored but we showed great character. It was a professional performance and we can look forward to the final now.''
On-loan Paul Scharner, who played in the League Cup final during his first stint at Wigan, added: "It's unbelievable. We are in the final. The chairman deserves it most, and the supporters. In the second half they were trying to get an equaliser but we kept a clean sheet and I'm so happy to reach the final.''
Wigan will return to Wembley on May 11 to play either Chelsea or Manchester City - who meet on Sunday - but Scharner is not concerned who they face next.
"It doesn't matter,'' he said. "The final is always tough and both teams are very strong.''
Maloney, named man of the match, had never progressed beyond the third round of the competition before this season and said he would need time to appreciate today's achievement.
"It's a massive occasion for us today, and it will probably sink in in the next couple of days what exactly lies ahead,'' he said. "The chairman has spoken publicly about what it means to him and the whole club - it's a massive thing.''
Admitting the game had been far from easy, he added: "The first half we controlled but in the second half Millwall pinned us right back and it felt tough until the second goal.''
Wigan are still in the relegation scrap at the foot of the Premier League, and while the FA Cup is a nice distraction, they will need to focus attention on the league in the coming weeks in order to avoid the drop.
"If we play like we did today we'll have a real chance,'' Maloney added.
Millwall manager Kenny Jackett was proud of his players and their FA Cup campaign overall, but admitted Wigan were too strong.
"I felt Wigan were good,'' he said. "We had a very good 20-minute spell in the second half and had them on the back foot, their keeper made some good saves but we needed a goal during that period to build on. It didn't happen, they scored another on the break and that killed the game off. But we put in a sterling effort. [Arouna] Kone was excellent, though, he was something else and really brought their midfield into it and helped them score an excellent first goal.''
Millwall are in a relegation fight of their own, sitting three points above the drop zone, and Jackett also talked about the importance of returning focus to the league.
"That's the most important thing now. We would have loved to have gone one further but realistically we have to be proud of what the players have done to get this far. Now we have six games left before the end of the season and two in hand on almost everybody around us so we need to get some wins.''
Wigan counterpart Roberto Martinez confirmed that Whelan would be afforded the honour of leading the side out for the final.
"Yes, we will get the chairman leading the team out,'' he said. "It will bring full circle his time with the FA Cup.''
Asked what reaching the final means, he said: "It means a lot as you can imagine. Not just the first time we're playing in a semi-final but the opportunity to reach the final, it's a big, big achievement for the players and they deserved it. So do the fans. A lot of people judge us on the numbers but its about the quality of the numbers.''
Admitting Millwall had made it hard work, he said: "We did expect that. Huge credit to Millwall who competed until the last second and there were plenty of difficult situations as they can be quite powerful.
"To handle being the favourites in a semi-final can be tough but I thought we did that magnificently, from the young players to the experienced players there was a real togetherness.''
McManaman was one of the stars for Wigan, and Martinez hopes his talent is now doing the talking following on from his nasty tackle on Newcastle's Massadio Haidara on his Premier League debut last month.
"It's great to see that it's now all about his talent,'' Martinez said. "He's an attacker, not a defender, and who can see that in how he takes the goal. He seems like he's been playing at Wembley many, many times. The whole situation has been very, very unfair on him, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but today we saw the real Callum McManaman.''
Information from the Press Association was used in this report