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Huddersfield Town are back in England’s top-flight after a 45 year absence and a suspense-racked playoff final, with Christopher schindler sealing a sensational return to the elite by scoring the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.
That last twist on a gripping afternoon at Wembley sealed an extraordinary achievement by the Yorkshire club, who were widely expected to be closer to relegation than promotion this season.
Ted Heath was the British prime minster and T-Rex were top of the charts the last time Huddersfield were in the top flight but here David Wagner’s unlikely band of heroes ushered in a glorious new age for one of the lowest-resourced clubs in the Championship.
Schindler became the club’s record signing when he joined from 1860 Munich for a mere £1.8m last summer and his goal here earned Huddersfield a minimum of £170m (€195m).
More than that, it brought spectacular reward for the vision of the club’s chairman, Dean Hoyle, and manager David Wagner.
Wembley was awash with blue and white, the only distinction between the 76,682 fans being that one set wore hoops, the other stripes. Together they made a tremendous racket. Neither lot had foreseen this scenario at the start of their campaign, what with Reading having finished last term 17th in the Championship while Huddersfield wound up 19th.
Each club has been transformed since then – but each knew that only one could crown that improvement with promotion. They fought here for that honour as if it was, as Wagner suggested, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The occasion was exceptional but the approaches familiar. Both managers had guided their team this far by hothousing distinctive styles and had no intention of deviating from their methods here.
Each deployed the same lineup that had started the second legs of their respective semi-finals and seemingly issued instructions to carry on doing what they had done to date.
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