ALAN Dunne hopes to be rewarded for his storming end to the season by being offered an extension to his Millwall contract.
Dunne's return to the side coincided with the eight-game unbeaten that saw the Lions climb out of the drop zone and reach Championship safety on the final day of the campaign.
The 31-year-old, who was also made captain by boss Ian Holloway, has another 12 months remaining on his current deal but hopes to extend his two-decade stay at The Den further.
"I've got a year left – I signed an extension last summer – but I hope to speak to the club and try to change that, because I think that's what I deserve," Dunne said.
Asked whether he was Millwall's lucky charm during their final run-in, which culminated in a 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, Dunne added:
"I don't know about luck, but it was a change that the manager made eight games ago when everybody had written us off.
"He put me at centre half – I had never played there before in my career – and he made me captain, which was a big statement and a massive risk.
"Since then, we've been unbeaten and won against three of the top six sides. We've played well, dominated most of those games and deserved the points we've come out with."
Dunne and his teammates were mobbed by delirious fans after their second-tier status was secured for another year with victory over Eddie Howe's Cherries.
He said: "I couldn't breathe at one point when they were surrounding me! You knew it was going to happen – they tell them not to come on, but it's the one day they can get on.
"It's all part of the emotion. It was a fantastic atmosphere on Saturday – one of the best I've ever seen at The Den during my time here. Every single one of the fans was fantastic.
"That sort of crowd gives such a lift to the players and with them behind us we could be a strong force at home."
Asked for his overall assessment of the campaign, Dunne said: "At the beginning it didn't work out.
"It wasn't Steve Lomas' fault but he just wasn't the right man for the job – Ian Holloway is experienced and we need that in this division.
"The last eight games have been the turning point but since Holloway's come in we have played really well and we should have picked up more results.
"After he had a month in charge, things started to turn for us and the formation we were playing was hurting teams. The match stats prove that.
"It was only a matter of time before the results changed and things started to tick after we beat Nottingham Forest away.
"I'm disappointed the season has come to an end because we're one of the in-form teams in the league, and when you're playing well and winning you don't want it to end.
"It's a shame we've got to have a break because, with the momentum we've got, we would match any team in this league. I think we've got a chance of doing well next season.
"If we build on what we have achieved already, with the manager we have got, we got a strong chance of achieving something."
Dunne also revealed that Holloway was in the thick of the post-match celebrations in the Lions' dressing room.
"Ollie did the Great Escape dance after the game," he said. "I think he is very proud of the players.
"He's put so much work in on the training field, more than anyone I've ever worked under, over and over again, even when the results weren't coming.
"When people wrote us off after the Birmingham game, he still believed in us, and said that if we carried on doing the right things it will work itself out.
"It slowly did and he deserves massive credit. He's a fantastic guy and a manager."