Former fans' favourite Jimmy Walker on the real reason behind West Ham's great escape, not Carlos Tevez

Former West Ham United goalkeeper Jimmy Walker has lifted the lid on the club's famous great escape and revealed the real reason behind the miraculous run.

The 2006/7 season will be forever remembered by Hammers fans who witnessed one of the most remarkable ends to a season in Premier League history, which ended in them securing safety against all the odds.

West Ham ultimately escaped relegation by winning seven of their last nine games, including a 1-0 win over Arsenal, and on the last day of the season, defeating newly-crowned champions Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford to finish outside the relegation zone in 15th.

Carlos Tevez, who helped turn things around for the East Londoners with his tireless workrate and timely glut of goals, is remembered as the hero of that run-in.

Manager Alan Curbishley - who had ended a 15-year association with London rivals Charlton Athletic to return to his boyhood club - was also hailed for his part in turning around a seemingly sinking ship when he replaced the sacked Alan Pardew before Christmas.

But now, almost a decade on, Walker - a squad player at the time - has revealed that captain Lucas Neill, who signed in the January from Blackburn Rovers, was the real reason the club managed to turn their grave situation around.

"If I'm being honest he (Curbishley) was helped out by Lucas Neill a lot at the time," Walker told a fans' YouTube channel.

"He was a fantastic skipper especially in that run-in we had in the end.

"Obviously Tevez was on flames and the rest of the lads put a real shift in... it kept us up in the end which was fantastic.

"(But) people don't see behind the scenes and Curbs got a lot of praise for that and rightly so, but behind the scenes Lucas was a big factor in that as well.

"He really galvanised the lads got us together and some of his speeches were Braveheart-esque, it was a lot down to him."

The Hammers actually started that season brightly despite seeing the FA Cup slip from their grasp in agonising fashion the summer before in that epic penalty shootout defeat to Liverpool.

But they started to slide down the table, were knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Serie A side Palermo  4-0 on aggregate and saw themselves dragged into the relegation zone.

After Pardew was sacked and Curbishley appointed, further drama was around the corner when the signings of Argentine star Tevez and his compatriot Javier Mascherano were called into question by the Premier League over forbidden third party ownership.

The Hammers were eventually handed a record £5.5 million fine by the Premier League, but avoided a points deduction and, much to the delight of Walker and West Ham fans, stayed up on the last day of the season at Old Trafford, Carlos Tevez... 1-0.

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