As featured on NewsNow: Football news

Lee Clark Exclusive: Tigana (& great signings) transformed Fulham

Lee Clark has explained how Fulham transformed themselves from cellar dwellers into Premier League mainstays.

Clark signed from Sunderland in the summer of 1999, and two seasons later under French manager Jean Tigana, helped the club win promotion to the top-flight for the first time since 1967/68.

Several talented players soon arrived at Craven Cottage, including Louis Saha from Metz, Lyon star Steed Malbranque and Ajax's legendary goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. Those massive changes culminated in a ninth-placed finish in the 2003/04 season.

Some inconsistent seasons followed, but Fulham would once again establish themselves as a successful club under Roy Hodgson, finishing runners-up in the 2009/10 Europa League final.

The Cottagers' 14-year streak in the top-flight finished in the 2013/14 season.

Clark captained the club at the start of the millennium and he believes their early success was down to an amalgamation of management, recruitment and opportunism.

He told TribalFootball.com: "We had success because of a few things. Firstly a tremendous manager who was ahead of the game at the time, Jean Tigana, who had us all supremely fit.

"We had a core group of senior British players, but he added that with some foreign signings and some British players of his own. We complemented really well with each and had unbelievable work ethic and tremendous fitness program, the staff were meticulous with the work that we done.

"As we progressed into the Premier League we were then getting established and being from the west of London we could attract some of the top players, we had van der Sar who was unbelievable signing for us at the time and came in and proved to be brilliant, and then players who went on to bigger and better things.

"The club was growing every year and we finished ninth in the Premier League which at the time was Fulham's highest ever top flight finish.

"We got to the semi final of the FA Cup, competed in the Europa League, and all things at the time showed the club were getting stronger and stronger. And the fans traveled with us on that journey and they were brilliant, the time we had together was fantastic."

Andrew Maclean
About the author

Andrew Maclean

Have your say
×

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free
×

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free