Nottingham Forest clinched promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years with a 1-0 win over Huddersfield in the Championship play-off final on Sunday.
Levi Colwill’s own goal late in the first half at Wembley was enough for Steve Cooper’s side to hit the jackpot in the most lucrative single match in world football.
Promotion to the top flight is estimated to be worth at least £170 million ($214m) in increased revenue.
Forest will gratefully accept the huge financial windfall, but it was the relief at ending their long exile from English football’s elite that spurred the frenzied scenes of celebration among their thousands of red-and-white-clad fans.
For the first time in the 21st century, Forest can look forward to welcoming the Premier League’s elite to their City Ground stadium on the banks of the River Trent.
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𝐖𝐄 𝐀𝐑𝐄 𝐏𝐑𝐄𝐌𝐈𝐄𝐑 𝐋𝐄𝐀𝐆𝐔𝐄.
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) May 29, 2022
The promotion was a personal triumph for Cooper, who has revitalised Forest since replacing the sacked Chris Hughton in September.
Forest were bottom of the table after taking one point from their first seven games, but Cooper had the midas touch as he erased the bitter taste of his defeat with Swansea in last year’s Championship playoff final by Brentford.
“I’m really pleased for the players and the supporters. Everybody connected with the football club deserves this today and we’re now really looking forward to a positive future,” Cooper said.
“It’s relief and pride. This isn’t about me but it’s changed my life, potentially anyway.
“We’ve brought Nottingham to Wembley today, we’ve taken over the place and here we are in the Premier League.”
Cooper repaired the wounds of Forest’s worst start to a season for 108 years and ensured they remained focus after losing a shot at automatic promotion in their penultimate game of the season against top-two rivals Bournemouth.
Fourth-placed Forest beat Sheffield United on penalties in the playoff semi-final and held their nerve again to earn the ultimate prize against Huddersfield.
Having knocked Arsenal and Leicester out of this season’s FA Cup before losing narrowly to Liverpool, Forest’s sleeping giants have awoken from their slumber at last.