Fulham keeper Antti Niemi admits helping The Cottagers stay in the Barclays Premiership has allowed him to banish memories of his relegation nightmare at Southampton.

Niemi was part of the Saints side that dropped down into the Coca-Cola Championship in 2005, a period the Finland goalkeeper has described as the most difficult of his career.

The 34-year-old joined Fulham in January last year and played a crucial role in preserving their top flight status this term.

A string of brilliant saves during the nerve-shredding run in helped to keep the Cottagers up and Niemi admits his heroics between the posts have eased the pain of events at St Mary’s.

“Getting relegated with Southampton served a motivation for me,” he said.

“On a personal level, I was enjoying the pressure because I knew that if I could do well and help the team to get out of it I would feel absolutely fantastic.

“I knew that it was the opportunity to bury a few demons from my footballing past.

“After the Liverpool game, when we knew we were safe, I felt so empty and relieved that it’s hard to put into words. It was such a fantastic feeling.”

Niemi admits the tension at Craven Cottage affected everyone until Clint Dempsey fired the crucial winner against Liverpool just over three weeks ago.

“The pressure we were playing under for the final few games of the season was unbelievable when you think about it now,” he said.

“Suddenly you look at the table and realise that you’re one defeat away from relegation.

“It’s easy to say ‘the only thing we can do is concentrate on ourselves’ and in many ways that’s true.

“But you can’t name me a player who wouldn’t look at the result, the league table, the fixtures and make calculations.

“Don’t get me wrong, we were in a bad situation but I was over the moon with how things went.

“I was really pleased that I could help the team in the last few games when things really mattered.

“I felt really good, especially considering I’ve been on the other side of the coin when I got relegated with Southampton.”