European Cup winners Nottingham Forest return to the Premier League for the first time since 1999

Two-time European Cup winners Nottingham Forest are back in English football’s top flight for the first time since 1999.

Forest beat Huddersfield 1-0 in the Championship play-off final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to secure their return to the English Premier League next season.

Football’s most lucrative game – worth £170m ($300m) in future broadcast money and guaranteed revenue – was settled with an own goal from Huddersfield defender Levi Colwill just before half-time.

Forest had a late scare when goalkeeper Brice Samba was injured and replaced in the 89th minute by American Ethan Horvath, who made his first appearance since March 20 in the FA Cup quarter-final.

Huddersfield, who had two strong second-half penalty appeals, finished the regular season third – one place ahead of Forest – as they sought their first return to the Premier League since relegation in 2019.

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Forest join champions Fulham and second-placed Bournemouth in promotion from the Championship.

Forest are a big name in English football, having won back-to-back European Cups in 1979 and 1980 under Brian Clough.

But it fell on hard times, becoming the first European Cup-winning club to fall into the Third Division of a domestic league system.

Forest have done it the hard way this season too. The side were in last place, with six defeats and one draw in their first seven games, when Steve Cooper took charge in September and the former Swansea manager turned Forest’s fortunes around.

Nottingham Forest head coach Steve Cooper sends a punch to the crowd after a win
Nottingham were in last place, with six defeats and one draw in their first seven games, when Steve Cooper took charge. (MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images: Jon Hobley)

Asked to assess Cooper’s contribution to the promotion, Forest Captain Joe Worrall said, “I keep using the phrase ‘like a whipped dog’.

“He came and he gave us that hope, gave us that belief and he was so kind. He just killed us with kindness and the fans absolutely adore him.”

Colwill, a centre-back on loan from Chelsea, had the misfortune to put the ball in his own net in the 43rd minute after a teasing cross from Forest striker James Garner.

PA

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