Macclesfield “had to climb mountains” to avoid relegation from League Two, according to boss Sol Campbell.
The Silkmen were bottom of the table and seven points from safety when he took charge in November.
Ex-England defender Campbell, 44, has also had to deal with with players not being paid on time for three successive months, but Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Cambridge was enough to keep them up.
“Not many clubs could have got out of that scenario,” said Campbell.
“I’m proud of the lads and their achievement.”
He added to BBC Radio 5 live: “At times, we’ve had to climb mountains.
“It’s been frustrating with the scenarios off the field but they have responded, they’ve dug in. They’ve always tried to play football, they’ve showed tenacity under pressure, a will to win and they’ve shown great character.”
Will Campbell stay with Macclesfield?
Macclesfield, who finished top of the National League last season, failed to win any of their opening 13 league games to equal the English Football League record of 36 consecutive games without a victory.
But, after succeeding Mark Yates as boss, Campbell has won seven and drawn 11 of his 27 games in charge.
They went into their game with Cambridge two points ahead of Notts County, knowing that a draw would realistically be enough to save them because of their superior goal difference over the Magpies, who lost 3-1 at Swindon.
In steering Macclesfield to safety, Campbell has emulated former England team-mate Paul Ince’s achievement in 2007 by keeping the Silkmen in the Football League against the odds in his first managerial role.
Ince left Moss Rose to take over at MK Dons that summer, but Campbell suggested he plans to lead Macclesfield into a full League Two season next term.
“For me, I want to start again here and get a pre-season under my belt and have some kind of budget,” said Campbell.
“I’ve had no budget – I’ve had to beg, borrow and steal and utilise my contacts to get through.
“It’s brilliant we’ve not been relegated, which was on the cards for a hell of a long time.
“As a manager this has been a baptism of fire. This is great getting through it, because everyone was losing their heads but sticking to the plan. There was a lot of pressure on me, too.
“I don’t think anyone wanted to take on the job when I took over, but I took it and put everything into it – my heart, my soul and my spirit.
“I have been committed to it, because that’s what you have to do in football. But it’s football, I love it and I love everything about it, it’s my life.”