Steve Cooper intends on partying like its 1999 – after ending Nottingham Forest’s long Premier League absence.
The 42-year-old has led Forest to the promised land despite inheriting a team that was bottom of the Championship when he was appointed in September. A stunning story was given the perfect ending at Wembley when a scrappy contest was decided by an own goal from Levi Colwill, just before half-time.
That sparked wild celebrations as the Reds’ fans blew the roof off the national stadium as they sealed a return to the top flight for the first time since relegation 23 years ago. Cooper lifted the World Cup with England under-17s back in 2017 and whilst he was quick not to compare the two achievements, he says he will definitely be making sure he enjoys it.
Cooper, who is heading off on a well-deserved holiday next week, said: “I remember the World Cup with England, sometimes you don’t take a deep breath and think how good things are. We’ve been desperate for something like this. There’s no doubt we deserve to be promoted.
“I’m just really proud of everybody connected with the club. You cannot have a club like this, with its belonging, and it be about individuals.
“I’m delighted for the fans. Maybe I will be a bit more articulate in a couple of days. I am really pleased for the players. Really pleased for the supporters.
“I thought we played well in the first half apart from being too creative. Of all the big goals we have scored this season, we get one like that, but it doesn’t matter. We’ve managed to see it through in the second half, but everybody connected with the football club deserves this today. We are really looking forward to a positive future.”
Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan reflected: “The game was really balanced and equal but second half we needed to approach it in a different way. We had to be more aggressive and second half we were dominating the game.
“I hope that this experience helps us achieve what we want to achieve next season. My target is to go again with this team.”
Two second half incidents saw Harry Toffolo and Lewis O’Brien both appear to go down under contact inside the area – but referee Jon Moss waved away appeals on both occasions. VAR, in use for the first time in the EFL play-offs, even backed up the on-field decision despite TV replays appearing to show contact in both instances.
Corberan added: “I didn’t see them back (replays). The only thing I can do is accept it.” When quizzed on his views about VAR not overruling the on-field decision, he simply said: “I have no idea!”