“I’ve never been relegated from the Premier League and I don’t intend to start now.”

Those were the words uttered by Harry Redknapp over eight years ago as he took on the challenge of keeping Saints in the Premier League.

Sitting in a chair next to chairman Rupert Lowe in the media room at St Mary’s, they flowed out of his mouth on December 8 2004.

An extraordinary chain of events had led to Redknapp quitting his beloved Portsmouth and taking over at their arch rivals.

Yet the bizarre marriage of Lowe and Redknapp was to end in an acromonious divorce less than a year later, with Redknapp decamping back to Fratton Park and admitting his time at St Mary’s was one of the biggest mistakes of his life.

For the first time since his departure in November 2005, Redknapp returns to St Mary’s this weekend to take his seat in the opposition dug-out as manager of Queens Park Rangers.

His appearance brings back memories of a script so unlikely it would have been rejected by soap opera writers.

Don't miss the two-page feature on Harry Redknapp's incredible career in today's Daily Echo