HUDDERSFIELD TOWN win a 185 million pound penalty shoot out, in a match widely billed as the most lucrative game of the season.
German Christian Schindler scored the decisive spot kick to send Huddersfield Town back to the top flight of English football for the first time in 45 years, with a 4-3 victory over Reading on penalties.
Huddersfield last appeared in the top division when Ted Heath was prime minister and T-Rex were top of the charts and only last season they finished 19th in the Championship.
But in a few short months time, this modest group of players will take their place alongside football giants Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City in the most famous league in the World, the English Premier League.
With a budget of 185 million pounds from TV rights for the winning team, the championship play-off was a tense, nervous affair for both Huddersfield and opponents Reading, who had more recent memories of the premier league, having been relegated in 2013.
The stakes made the drama gripping even if the action became scruffy. Neither goalkeeper made a save until just after half-time, when John Swift burst from midfield and unleashed a powerful drive from 20 yards that Ward batted away.
After 90 minutes the teams remained deadlocked, the suspense thrillingly hard to bear.
Garath McCleary produced gasps in the dying moments of the first period of extra-time when he fired just wide from the edge of the box.
Five minutes from the end of the second period Kasey Palmer delivered a low cross from the right to Nahki Wells, who swivelled near the penalty spot before dragging a shot wide.
And so the contest progressed to the ultimate tie-breaker.
Yann Kermorgant netted for Reading from the first spot‑kick, then Chris Löwe and Williams scored, before Al-Habsi saved from Hefele. Liam Kelly and Wells safely scored before there was another twist, as Moore sent his shot into the stands.
Mooy converted to draw the teams level again before Ward, on loan from Liverpool, saved Obita’s low effort. Schindler, whose arrival from 1860 Munich for £1.8m last summer made him the club’s record signing, stepped up to write himself into Huddersfield folklore.
Huddersfield club chairman, Dean Hoyle, took a gamble when he appointed German, David Wagner as manager in November 2015 and 19 months later that paid off spectacularly at Wembley as Huddersfield emerged triumphant from a tense play-off final to crown a rise that even their own fans did not dare predict at the start of this season.
The fairytale promotion has the potential to transform the Yorkshire club whose budget this season was “much less than [the reported] £12m”, according to Wagner. Promotion to the Premier League is worth at least £170m. “I need to take a few weeks to get my head around it,” Wagner said. “I will have a lot of phone calls to make.”
Reading’s manager, Jaap Stam, said his players must use the pain of defeat to drive them towards happier times. “It’s difficult to take but it needs to be difficult,” he said.