PAUL Sturrock feels keeping Southend United in the Football League was his greatest achievement in management.

Sturrock won promotion with Plymouth Argyle, Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon Town.

But the Scotsman - who bossed close to 1,000 games in his managerial career - believes helping Blues avoid relegation in the 2010/11 season was his biggest accomplishment.

“I had a lot of success at a lot of clubs but that first season at Southend was probably my best achievement because of the situation we were in,” said Sturrock.

“On the first day there were six players and four of them walked off because they hadn’t been paid for three months.

“We had to cancel the session, I remember we had to cancel a pre-season game with Ipswich soon after and we couldn’t sign anyone either.

“We had two and a half weeks to put a squad together and bring players in who we couldn’t actually get to sign a contract.

“Some we had to play as trialists to begin with but we did well that season. Houdini has nothing on me!”

Sturrock came to a club a crisis after the Shrimpers had been hit hard by financial difficulties which led to them suffering relegation from League One.

But, despite the problems, Sturrock was still keen to come to Roots Hall and led the team to a 13th place finish, 14 points above the relegation zone.

“The job appealed to me because it was a challenge,” said Sturrock, 63.

“I remember the first few friendlies filling in the team-sheet as A N Other other than Anthony Grant I think it was.”

And Sturrock was also pleased with his work off the pitch at Blues.

“I remember having a very successful vegetable plot at the training ground,” said Sturrock.

“I didn’t have to buy any vegetables for three or four months, it was great. “