After big win, a visit to Auschwitz

Grant honors Holocaust victims after Portsmouth makes FA Cup final.

Grant at Auschwitz 311 (photo credit: GPO)
Grant at Auschwitz 311
(photo credit: GPO)
Israeli coach Avram Grant's celebrations after steering Portsmouth into the FA Cup final were tinged with sadness as he prepared to make an emotional pilgrimage to honor family members who died in World War II.
Debt-ridden Portsmouth's remarkable 2-0 victory over Tottenham on Sunday coincided with the start of Holocaust memorial day in Grant's native Israel and throughout the semifinal Grant wore a black armband.
However traumatic Portsmouth fans may feel their season has been withthe club nearly going out of business, it's all put into perspectivefor Grant by his family's history.
When Grant travels Monday to the former Nazi death camp ofAuschwitz-Birkenau for the annual March of the Living, he will beremembering family members who froze or starved to death in a Russianforest after fleeing Poland in 1941.
Providing added poignancy for Grant is that he traveled to thecommemorations in Poland two years ago the morning after guidingChelsea into the Champions League final.
"It's emotional — I wanted to win anyway, but for the second time ithas happened, to reach the final at this time," the Israeli said inbroken English. "It's more than symbolic."
This time Grant won't be traveling with his father. Meir Granat died inOctober shortly after urging his son to return to management atPortsmouth. Granat was the only family member to survive Siberia andhad to bury his parents and siblings — some of the six million Jews whoperished in the Holocaust.
"My father suffered a lot but he was most optimistic guy I ever met inmy life," Grant said. "He said don't live in past, live in future. Myfather was always happy, never hated people, even when they did wrong."
That optimistic outlook inspired Grant as he battled to keep Portsmouthin existence as the owners were forced to seek bankruptcy protection.
"I tried every day to keep the club alive and give hope to people who didn't do anything wrong," Grant said.
As a result of entering financial administration, Pompey were dockednine points by the Premier League, which doomed them to relegation.That was confirmed Saturday by West Ham's victory over Sunderland.
But Grant, who was discarded by Chelsea after missing out on the 2008Champions League title on penalties, has pulled off an incredibleachievement by beating a Tottenham side packed with many of the playersPortsmouth was forced to sell to raise cash.
"We had a belief and the courage to win this game, we knew we could doit," Grant said. "They are a good team with a great manager, buttactically we played very well. The players gave their hearts. It wasnot easy.
"Five players were not 100 percent and some players did not play intheir right position, and we did not even have one defender on thebench. In spite of this we played football, scored two goals and Icould not ask for more."
Now Grant is looking to end the season — and potentially his stint atPortsmouth — by beating his former employer Chelsea in the May 15 FACup final.
"This club, this year, I will not forget it all my life," Grant said.