Huddersfield Town head coach David Wagner said he was “in a fairy tale” after seeing his side clinch promotion to the Premier League at Wembley.
Town beat Reading in a dramatic penalty shootout in the Championship play-off final on Monday to reach the top flight for the first time since 1972.
“I’m so happy and so proud of my players, the whole town and every employee of the club,” Wagner said.
“The players have gone from heroes to legends during these play-offs.”
‘Experience isn’t everything’
Wagner, who took Huddersfield from 19th last season to fifth in 2016-17, felt the club’s rise to the Premier League could almost be labelled a work of fiction.
But the former Borussia Dortmund II boss said the desire of his players helped make promotion a reality.
“We said as a group we wanted to leave our comfort zone, because if we weren’t able to do that, we wouldn’t be competitive,” the German, 45, continued.
“I asked the players to do that so many times and they’ve got paid back for something they’ve invested in.
“We wanted to find new ways to be competitive. I’m so happy we’ve proved that experience isn’t everything in England.
“Since I arrived, I was always in confrontation of having no experience in English football, no experience in this league, no experience of not having a winter break, no experience of play-offs.
“Experience is important, but if you have passion, desire and ideas, you can match it.
“I’m so happy we’ve proven this is possible and we’ve brought this fairytale to a happy ending.”
‘Make our own identity’
Huddersfield’s rise to the Premier League as a club with a playing budget of less than £12m draws comparisons with previous promotion winners such as Bournemouth and Burnley.
But rather than copying those before them, Wagner is keen the club makes its own history.
“I know a little bit about those clubs, but I haven’t followed their stories on how they got here,” he said.
“We have to be focused on ourselves and this club has created an identity and style now.
“It makes no sense to compare us with others, this club has to create its own story and I think it’s on the way.”
Reading ‘stood up’ in shoot-out, says Stam
As Huddersfield and their 39,000 fans celebrated victory and promotion to the Premier League, Reading’s players had to take the despair of defeat in a shoot-out they at one stage led 3-1.
Centre-back Liam Moore missed the chance to make it 4-2, blazing over the crossbar, before Jordan Obita had his effort saved by Danny Ward at 3-3.
Reading manager Jaap Stam, who helped the club to third position in his first season in charge, felt his players did all they could to stand up to the pressure in the shoot-out.
“What’s important for me is the players took their responsibility and knew what they needed to do,” the Dutchman said.
“I’ve played in games where there’s been a shoot-out and certain players don’t stand up or feign an injury. That didn’t happen here, they knew what they needed to do.
“Misses happen. Of course everyone’s disappointed that we haven’t made it to the Premier League, but that’s sport.
“Finals are there to be won and that’s what we tried to do. Congratulations to Huddersfield and good luck to them next season.
“We need to give it another shot next season. Maybe in a couple of days, a week, we’ll think we’ve done so well this season.”