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EPL English Premier LeagueCooper revels in life-changing Premier League promotion

Cooper revels in life-changing Premier League promotion

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper recognised that Sunday’s Championship play-off final win over Huddersfield Town was life-changing.

Forest beat the Terriers 1-0 at Wembley to secure their long-awaited return to the Premier League.

They haven’t played in the Premier League since the 1998-99 season, and their 23-year gap between seasons is the longest in the league.

Their victory on Sunday emphasized Cooper’s remarkable turnaround at the club, which he took over in September when they were second from bottom in the Championship – only Derby County, who had been deducted 12 points early in the season, were below the two-time European champions.

Cooper has won 60% of his 45 games in charge since then, the greatest win ratio of any Forest manager (minimum 15 games) since the club joined the Football League in 1982-93.

In that time, Forest’s 27 victories across all competitions are more than any other Championship club, and Cooper – who lost to Brentford with Swansea City in last season’s play-offs – was fully aware of the gravity of securing promotion.

Cooper told Sky Sports:

“It’s a relief and pride – this isn’t about me, but it’s changed my life, potentially anyway.

“My family are here, the players’ families are here – this football club is about belonging to a city.

“It comes together on matchday. We’ve taken over Wembley today and are in the Premier League.

“This football club is built on positive eras from the past, and we want to build on that. We are proud of that, but at the same time, we need to think, ‘what if?’

“Can we get the Premier League? Can we play attractive football? What if we can develop young players? And that’s what we’ve done, showing an attitude and a commitment not to get beaten. We deserve this.”

While Cooper will attract many the plaudits for the undeniably brilliant job he has performed since September, he was quick to pay tribute to his players and the atmosphere they have helped cultivate in the club.

“It’s a glamorous world being a footballer and a manager, but it’s also a harsh and spiteful one,” he continued.

“I just wanted the players to know I will be their biggest supporter and give them everything through thick and thin.

“It doesn’t mean I’m soft with them or don’t demand them, but everybody loves to be loved. So that’s what we’ve tried to do with the players.”

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