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Huddersfield in high drama as 45-year wait finally ends

Huddersfield Town 0 Reading 0 (4-3 pens)

By Andy Sims

David Wagner was drenched in champagne as he toasted his Huddersfield heroes following their dramatic Wembley win in the Championship play-off final, said to be worth £170million.

The Terriers secured promotion to the Premier League, ending a 45-year absence from the top flight, thanks to a 4-3 penalty shoot-out success over Reading.

Goalkeeper Danny Ward, who saved two penalties in their semi-final shoot-out win over Sheffield Wednesday, replicated his heroics in the final by keeping out Reading's fifth spot-kick from Jordan Obita.

Defender Christopher Schindler then stepped up to nervelessly tuck away the winning penalty and cap a remarkable rise for a side who were nearly relegated from the league last season when they finished 19th.

And German boss Wagner, still dripping from the bubbly-fuelled celebrations, said: "I told players before the play-offs that they were heroes.

"But from hero to zero in football is sometimes only a week, and they had the opportunity to become legends. And they have done it. They are Huddersfield legends.

"We have had so many setbacks, so many problems, we don't have the biggest squad, but we trusted and believed in ourselves."

If the penalties were nerve-jangling, the 120 minutes which preceded them were anything but.

Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown somehow missed an open goal from two yards for Huddersfield in the 10th minute, but other than that the two teams totally cancelled each other out.

Not that Wagner and Huddersfield cared one jot, having secured the estimated £170million windfall promotion brings.

"Of course it is special, everyone knows last time this club was in the top division is 45 years ago," added the former Borussia Dortmund reserve-team boss.

"I'm so pleased with my players, my group and the whole town, and for the chairman (Dean Hoyle) who backed nearly all my ideas. Now we have done it. We set no limits."

It was a heartbreaking end to an amazing season for Reading, who were just as unfancied as Huddersfield at the start, but ended up finishing third in Jaap Stam's first year as a manager.

The former Manchester United defender's success has seen him linked with Premier League clubs, but he insisted he is going nowhere.

"I have a contract and I'm very happy here," said the Dutchman.

"It's always hard if you lose but what we achieved this season is great - how we made progress, got in the top six and to the play-off final.

"If you reach the final you give it your best shot, it doesn't matter how you play, the result is the most important thing.

"The boys have worked very hard. You can talk about taking risks and taking the initiative but this is not just a league game, in the players' minds there are other things.

"It's a totally different occasion and it's difficult to put that aside. We got to penalties and then basically it's a lottery."

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