"I came back to a terrible team after leaving a really good one behind a year earlier. We did really well to stay up," Redknapp said. "At first I wondered what I'd done. As soon as I got back, the captain at the time, Dejan Stefanovic, told me I'd got the worst team here he had ever seen.
"He said 'you must me mad' - and after the first morning's training I realised he was right.
"They had gone out and bought a load of oddmarks in from everywhere around in the world. I'm not blaming (then manager) Alain Perrin because I don't think it was his fault but, quite rightly, we were bottom of the league, looking dead and buried.
"Somehow we got out of it after going to Wigan and winning in the last game but one. But what a day. People said to me I must be nervous before my first FA Cup semi-final but, believe me, it is nothing compared to that day at Wigan where I knew we had to win to stay up or else everybody would slaughter me."
Redknapp admits he was foolish to go to fierce rivals Southampton after walking out and just as "mad" to return a year later.
He added: "If we had gone down I knew I was in big trouble because I can't say truthfully that everybody welcomed me back. At first there were banners up saying 'Judas' nice things like that.
"But in the end you have just got to stay true to yourself and I've got time for everybody. I'd rather do somebody a good turn than a bad turn, that's for sure.
"I got a letter last week from a fan who wrote saying he'd been with his wife to every round in the cup, been to Ipswich, been to Preston but couldn't get tickets for the semi-final. He'd tried for his life.
"So I took it on face value, rang him up, not knowing it was April Fool's Day and left a message on his answer phone saying 'Hello Geoff, it's Harry Redknapp, I've got you two tickets and would ring back'.
"Of course, when I did he couldn't believe it. He said he'd had a big ruck with his mates who said somebody was playing a joke. But I was delighted to get him the tickets.
"My wife Sandra said what other Premier League manager would do that, but that's how I am."