League Two leader Northampton Town has received a surprise motivational message from NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal as the club looks to end its seven-year stint in the fourth tier.
After years of inconsistency at Sixfields Stadium, manager Chris Wilder has guided Northampton to the top of the table with 17 games to play, five points clear of second-placed Plymouth Argyle and with a game in hand.
Northampton has battled with relegation from the Football League in two of the previous four campaigns, but its sights are firmly set on a return to League One after 12 wins in its past 13 matches.
The club's form has earned the praise of four-time NBA champion O'Neal through his association with Northampton chairman Kelvin Thomas. The retired center hosts a show on Thomas' Shaq-Fu radio station.
O'Neal won titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat during his career, and he called on Northampton to maintain its focus to become champion in May.
In a video posted on Northampton's YouTube channel, he said: "Just wanted to wish Kelvin and all the rest of the Cobblers all the best for the rest of the season, first place is where I like to be so it's great to see you guys at the top.
"I know what it takes to win championships so you've got to make sure you finish strong, do not give up that intensity. Looking forward to coming to Sixfields at some point to see a match. You guys know what you've got to do, keep grinding guys, I know you're going to be the champs."
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