Nottingham Forest have sealed a return to the Premier League with a win over Huddersfield Town AFC in Sunday’s Championship playoffs.
Forest finished in fourth place after amassing 80 points from 46 games played. And qualified for the two-round playoffs between the teams in third place to sixth place. After dispatching fifth place Sheffield United in a two-legged semi-final tie, they set up a match with Huddersfield who finished third and won their semi-final against Luton Town.
The Steve Cooper-led side went on to beat Huddersfield, who were expected to seal promotion, by a lone goal to end a 23-year wait for the Premier League on Sunday. An own goal scored by Chelsea loanee Levi Colwill sealed the win for Forest on the night.
It was a fairytale ride back to the top flight for Forest. Their first seven games of the season saw them claim only one point, and it was unlikely that they would even remain in the Championship next season judging by their poor form.
However, the club’s board sacked Chris Hughton and appointed Cooper, who led the team in a remarkable turnaround of their season to finish in fourth place. In the 39 matches Cooper handled, they lost only seven games and amassed 80 points. This fairytale journey will now see the two-time European champions return to the summit of English football where they will chase another fairytale of returning to the European stages.
Nottingham Forest captain Joe Worrall paid a moving tribute to the team and its fans who have stood behind the club in their struggles.
Worrall, a Nottingham Forest academy graduate who worked his way up to the captain’s armband at the club, represents the dedication of fans to the cause. Speaking to Sky Sports after their return to the Premier League was confirmed, he spoke of how “sh**e” the team had been and how the fans stood by them regardless.
“I’m just so proud of the players, of the staff, the fans,” Worrall said in an emotional post-match interview with Sky Sports. “We’ve been fantastic all season and were really unlucky not to go up automatically, in my opinion. We’ve played with honesty and we play the right way.
“We’ve been really good, and it’s not just this season – I’m not saying we’ve been good in the past seasons because we’ve been sh**e – but it has been a long time coming. This club hasn’t been in the top flight for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of good people come and go, who have all added to this football club. It’s such an honour to captain Forest.
“We don’t mind suffering. We have suffered for a long time off the pitch, so half-an-hour is nothing compared to what we have suffered for so many years. I just want to say a big thanks to everybody who has helped us.
“I’ll forget names if I attempt to name everyone, but we’ve been really good value this season and I’m just so proud, especially for the manager.”