London - One of English football's most charismatic figures is heading back to the Premier League after Harry Redknapp steered his Queens Park Rangers side to an unlikely win in an absorbing promotion playoff on Saturday.
QPR secured a return to the top flight when, despite playing with 10 men for the last 30 minutes after Gary O'Neil was sent off, they beat a superior Derby County team 1-0 at Wembley with a last-minute goal from veteran striker Bobby Zamora.
Asked if he could see his side winning late on, Redknapp told talkSPORT: "No way. We were bang under the cosh.
"They had the extra man and we looked like we were tired. We were desperate and then we go and get a fantastic goal. What a finish."
Redknapp felt midfielder O'Neil might have been shown a yellow card for his challenge on forward Johnny Russell and said the sending off had left Rangers defending for their lives.
"I thought he wasn't the last man, there was another defender behind him," Redknapp told the BBC. "I thought he would get a yellow but that's life.
"We were bang in trouble but we showed great character and it was amazing. That was a one-off where you stand on the touchline, hanging on for grim death and get a goal like that.
"I wanted to do it for the people here (at Wembley), the owners and the players. They are fantastic people."
Chairman Tony Fernandes said that despite the red card he was still confident they would win, adding "I'm the most relieved and happiest man (at Wembley). We're back in the Premier League thanks to Bobby and all the boys. "
Redknapp played down speculation that, despite securing QPR's return to the elite after one season in the Championship, he might not be manager at the west London club next season.
If he is in charge Redknapp will have a few scores to settle when he returns to several Premier League clubs he has managed, chief among them Tottenham Hotspur who sacked him in 2012.
The 67-year-old may also be able to banish the memories of losing out on the job of England coach to Roy Hodgson.
"I'm looking forward to next season, but I'm looking forward to having a break and then having a good look at it and see where we go," Redknapp told reporters at Wembley. "I haven't even though about what next year brings."
Redknapp established himself as one of England's best coaches at a time when Premier League clubs were turning increasingly to foreign managers.
As well as Spurs and QPR, he has managed Bournemouth, West Ham United and fierce local rivals Southampton and Portsmouth, whose fans have never forgiven him for switching his allegiance between the clubs in the two south-coast port cities.
Redknapp was sacked by Tottenham at the end of the 2011-12 season, despite steering them to the Champions League quarterfinals in the previous campaign. Some supporters believed he had become distracted by speculation about the England job.
Redknapp's frustration at not getting the national team post still rankles and in his autobiography he said he "wouldn't trust the FA to show me a good manager if their lives depended on it." He will now hope to prove himself at the top again.