Eddie Howe said he had been “very grateful for the opportunity” to manage AFC Bournemouth as he prepared to take charge of his 500th game.
Howe, who is in his second spell at Vitality Stadium, will reach the milestone when the Cherries host Premier League rivals Fulham tomorrow.
Appointed initially on New Year’s Eve 2008, Howe returned to the club in October 2012 following a 21-month stay in the hot-seat at Burnley.
He has taken the club from the depths of League Two to the Premier League and, at 41, is the youngest manager to reach the 500-mark.
Speaking to the media at his pre-match press conference today, Howe said: “When I was told, my initial reaction was where has the time gone, where have the games gone? It doesn’t feel that many and the past 10 years feel a bit of a blur.
“It’s gone so quickly. I have crammed a lot into that period of time, it’s been a hugely enjoyable and successful period so I’m very grateful for the opportunity to manage this club.”
Asked whether any particular games stood out for him, Howe replied: “Naturally, there are a few games that immediately spring to mind.
“The Bolton game always stands out because taking the club into the Premier League was something we never thought possible. Also the Grimsby game so I’m going to pick two. The Grimsby game will always be part of our history.”
Casting his mind back to his appointment in 2008, Howe said: “I didn’t know I was going to become a manager at that time so I was learning about coaching, about the game and learning about a totally different side away from playing.
“To be given the opportunity to manage way ahead of any time-scale I had put on it myself was something that I really respected. People put their faith in me and I was desperate to repay that and do the best job I could. To this moment, I’m still doing the same thing. I’m trying to repay everyone for giving me this chance.”
Turning his attentions to Fulham, Howe insisted the Cherries would not underestimate the Cottagers after their relegation had been confirmed earlier this month.
“There can’t be any aspect of that in our mentality going into this game,” he said. “You only have to look at Fulham’s last game and how they played against an Everton team that’s in good form.
“They put on a really good display and were good defensively and in attack. They looked a very good team and credit to Scott Parker for the impact he has had.
“They faced an incredibly tough run of fixtures when he went into the job but I think their performances have improved and the Everton game was evidence of that.
“There has been a big upturn in their level of performance so we know with every Premier League game, we have to be at our very best.
“We need to get back to our best levels at home because I’ve been a little disappointed by the previous couple of games.
“We need to make sure we don’t drop our levels. I would be very disappointed if we didn’t see the same team we saw against Brighton in terms of endeavour, spirit and togetherness.”
Howe reported no fresh injury concerns ahead of the clash.