Steve Cooper said Nottingham Forest “reminded the world” how special and magical a club they are after they returned to the top flight following a 23‑year absence.
Forest will play in the Premier League next season after Cooper, who was appointed in September when the club were bottom of the Championship, masterminded a promotion push and credited his players for “getting off the canvas” after they started the campaign with one point from their opening seven matches.
Forest edged out Huddersfield in the playoff final courtesy of a Levi Colwill own goal but victory was mired in controversy after Forest survived two late penalty scares. Video assistant referee technology was in use but Harry Toffolo was booked for simulation after appearing to be fouled by the Forest midfielder Jack Colback and the VAR did not intervene when Lewis O’Brien was upended by the Forest substitute Max Lowe.
Colwill put the ball past his own goalkeeper, Lee Nicholls, in the 43rd minute as Ryan Yates attempted to meet James Garner’s cross.
“We’ve reminded the world of how special and how big this football club is and that means a lot to me,” Cooper said.
“We’ve been desperate for something like this. In the last eight or nine months we’ve just tried to put a sense of belief in among the club that has then connected with the supporters.
“There is no doubt that we deserve to be promoted, with the football that we have played, the games that we have won, the attitude we have given after every average performance or loss. I am really proud of everybody connected with the club.
“It is a magical football club and we have just reminded the world of that.
“Everybody connected with the football club deserves this today and we’re now really looking forward to a positive future. This isn’t about me but it’s changed my life, potentially anyway. We’ve brought Nottingham to Wembley, we’ve taken over the place and here we are in the Premier League.”
Huddersfield’s head coach, Carlos Corberan, refused to blame the officials for failing to award his side a penalty. “If you only have one referee it is complicated but when you have the VAR the opportunity to make a fair decision increases,” the Spaniard said. “I can only accept it was no penalty. I wasn’t watching the team suffer in defence. I was watching the team defending more than attacking but we didn’t suffer chances. In the second half we tried to take more risks.”