LONDON (REUTERS) - Huddersfield Town returned to the top flight of English football for the first time in 45 years after a nail-biting 4-3 penalty shootout win over Reading in the Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley on Monday.
The game finished 0-0 after extra time and German defender Christopher Schindler struck the winning penalty for Huddersfield after Reading failed to convert their last two spot-kicks.
The win ensured at least 170 million pounds ($218 million) in guaranteed revenue for Huddersfield as a Premier League club next season. "The prize is so big, I feel for (Reading)....but it is our turn and I think we deserve it because of the way we have done it. We give a lot of hope to smaller clubs," Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle said.
Huddersfield were relegated from the old first division in 1972 and have struggled in recent years in the Championship with 16th place their best finish since returning to the second tier five years ago.
While few predicted their promotion, the Yorkshire club have a rich history and were champions of England three times during the 1920s. "This has nothing to do with a dream. This is a reality," defender Michael Hefele told Sky Sports. "These guys have achieved such a big thing - such a small club to be in the best league in the world. Just crazy," he said.
Huddersfield, coached by German David Wagner, also won their playoff semi-final, against Sheffield Wednesday, on penalties but they will feel they deserved the victory having restricted Reading to long-range efforts.
Huddersfield had missed two great chances in the opening 10 minutes when Hefele headed wide and Izzy Brown stabbed wide from point-blank range after Elias Kachunga had slipped the ball across the face of the goal.
But the quality of what had promised to be an exciting game gradually declined as nerves and tiredness began to dominate and the game remained goalless after extra-time.
Reading got ahead in the shootout when Hefele's soft effort was saved by Ali Al-Habsi but that advantage was lost when Liam Moore blasted over the bar to allowing Aaron Mooy to level at 3-3.
Huddersfield keeper Danny Ward got down well to keep out Jordan Obita's kick and leave Schindler with the chance to start the celebrations.