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Nottingham Forest fans celebrate after winning the Championship Play-Off Final against Huddersfield at Wembley. Image Credit: Action Images via Reuters

At full time of the playoff final at Wembley Stadium, Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis clasped his hands around coach Steve Cooper and gave him a big kiss on the cheek.

It was the kind of thing the late Brian Clough would have done. The Forest legend must have been looking down and smiling after the Reds beat Huddersfield 1-0 to win promotion back to the Premier League after 23 years away. It was the longest ever wait for a Premier League return by a team.

In fact, it was 30 years since Forest last played at Wembley but they made their return to the national stadium a memorable one. On the biggest of stages in football’s richest game - with victory said to be worth £170m - the most stunning of season turnarounds was completed in front of more than 80,000 spectators.

Worst start

Forest didn’t look like promotion candidates after making their worst start to a season in 108 years. They spent 46 of the first 52 days in the relegation zone. But the important thing is how they finished the campaign.

Indeed, their loyal fans will care not that it took an own goal from Levi Colwill to secure the win and promotion. They are just delighted to be able to rub shoulders with the likes of Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and co once again.

Founded in 1865, Forest are one of the oldest clubs in football. They have a proud history and won the English top-division title in 1978 and were crowned back-to-back European champions in 1979 and 1980. It was an incredible achievement.

It has taken their 20th manager, Cooper, to get them back up after they were relegated from top flight football in 1999 and they are finally back where they belong.

Tough time

It’s been a tough time for them as while they have been struggling their east midlands neighbours Leicester City have established themselves in the Premier League - and even won the title.

Forest were one of the 20 founding members of the Premier League in 1992 but were relegated in that first season. A decade passed in which time they went up and down like a yoyo. They became the first European Cup winners to drop to the third division of a domestic league when they were relegated to League One.

But after a truly remarkable season they are back in the big time.