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Wells among ‘legends’, says manager Wagner

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Nahki Wells and his Huddersfield Town team-mates have “gone from heroes to legends” after clinching promotion to the Premier League.

Huddersfield beat Reading 4-3 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after a 0-0 draw after extra time at Wembley Stadium to reach the top flight for the first time since 1972.

It was the second successive shoot-out victory for David Wagner's side, who defeated Sheffield Wednesday on spot kicks in the semi-finals.

“The players have gone from heroes to legends during these play-offs,” Wagner said, who turned down Aston Villa and German side Wolfsburg before Christmas.

“I'm one of the most happy men on the planet today. I'm so proud of his group of players, what they've done over the whole season.

“I asked the players to do that so many times and they've got paid back for something they've invested in.”

Huddersfield have also reaped the rewards of that investment to the tune of £170 million over the next three seasons after winning the richest game in football.

Next term they will swap the likes of Griffin Park and Pirelli Stadium for Old Trafford and Anfield, and Wells, for one, can hardly wait.

“This has been the dream from day one and to have worked so hard to get to this point is a great feeling,” said the Huddersfield striker.

“I'm just trying to enjoy the moment; I'm excited and really over the moon.”

As finals go, it was hardly a classic, with neither team creating many chances.

But after a 0-0 draw in 120 minutes, it was Huddersfield who held their nerve in the shoot-out.

Christopher Schindler left the West Yorkshire travelling army of about 39,000 delirious, converting his spot kick after Liam Moore fired over and Jordan Obita's effort was saved by Huddersfield goalkeeper Danny Ward.

Wells, too, kept his cool to score his penalty to pull it back to 3-2 after Michael Hefele had missed Huddersfield's second kick. “I'd prepared myself for penalties and put myself forward,” Wells said. “I stuck it away and felt I contributed in that aspect.

“You can become complacent and say, ‘we've done it once and can do it again', but I think we took the positives from the Sheffield Wednesday win and kept a very similar line-up of penalty takers.

“It was unfortunate that Michael missed his pen, but I've missed pens before and I'm just really happy that my confidence level was still there.

“I had to be focused and mentally strong because that was the toughest moment in any of our football careers.”

Huddersfield crafted arguably the best two chances of the game, both in the opening ten minutes. Hefele headed off target from an Aaron Mooy free kick, before Isaiah Brown, on loan from Chelsea, missed an open goal when he squirted his effort wide at the back post from close range.

Other than a free kick, which he fired into the wall and a harmless strike from distance, Wells was kept largely subdued by Reading's unyielding backline.

He was, however, presented with a clear-cut chance in the dying moments of extra time but his tired body dragged the ball wide from the centre of the area.

“It was difficult as we were playing against a team very similar to ourselves: honest, hard working, humble and with a great manager [Jaap Stam],” Wells added.

“I had one chance and felt I could have possibly done it. But physically and mentally I was so fatigued and my body just couldn't do it for me.”

For Wells, it was his second successive play-off final win, having gained promotion to League One with Bradford City in 2013.

Reading, on the other hand, continued their miserable play-off final record with a fourth defeat.

TEAMS

Huddersfield Town (4-1-4-1): D Ward — T Smith (sub: M Cranie, 88 min), C Löwe, M Hefele, C Schindler — J Hogg — E Kachunga (sub: C Quaner, 66), I Brown (sub: K Palmer 98), A Mooy, R van la Parra — N Wells. Substitutes not used J Coleman, T Holmes-Dennis, D Whitehead, M Hudson. Booked Smith, Hogg, Kachunga.

Reading (4-4-2): A al-Habsi — C Gunter, T Ilora, L Moore (sub: J Obita, 64), J van der Berg — G Evans, D Williams, J Swift (sub: L Kelly, 100), T Blackett — Y Kermorgant, L Grabban (sub: G McCleary 74). Substitutes not used A Jaakola, R Beerens, J Mendes, A Popa. Booked Van der Berg, Kermorgant, Obita.

Referee N Swarbrick.

Glory day: Wells has a shot at Wembley during Huddersfield's win while Photograph by Nick Potts/PA via AP
Friends and family pay homage at the mural at Jamaican Grill in Hamilton Photograph by Antione Lightbourne

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Published May 30, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2017 at 1:19 am)

Wells among ‘legends’, says manager Wagner

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