Nick Westby:: Huddersfield Town punch above their weight all the way to the top

Who needs goals when you have nerves of steel from the penalty spot?

Huddersfield Town owner Dean Hoyle points to the stands as he clutches the Championship play-off final trophy after the Terriers penalty shoot-out win over Reading at Wembley (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA).

Huddersfield Town scored just one own goal in 330 minutes of play-off football, yet showed enough resolve, heart and courage to convert eight of their 10 penalties in two play-off ties to complete one of the more unlikely promotions in the 30-year history of the Football League play-offs.

From supposed relegation candidates to a club that next season will rub shoulders with the cream of European football inside 12 months. Fantastic stuff.

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Quite how they will fare in the Premier League, against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs among others, is a topic for another day.

Huddersfield Town's Michael Hefele and Elias Kachunga enjoy the lap of honour as they show off the trophy to their travelling support (Picture: Simon Hulme).

For now it is a moment to savour, a season to look back on with chest-thumping pride for Town fans.

And there can be no questioning that the men who wore black and yellow hoops at Wembley have not earned their shot at the big time.

This is their right after 46 games of the regular season that they began by defying the odds with an August win at Newcastle United and saw them continue to confound the critics over the notorious marathon of a Championship season.

Then into the play-offs, silencing Hillsborough with Colin Quaner’s introduction and their cool demeanour from the penalty spot.

Huddersfield Town's Michael Hefele and Elias Kachunga enjoy the lap of honour as they show off the trophy to their travelling support (Picture: Simon Hulme).

And on to the coup de grace on Monday, in muggy, overcast conditions at the national stadium, when they overcame obdurate opponents and their own tiring limbs to take their place at the top table of English football.

For their head coach David Wagner, it is a fitting conclusion to the revolution he has orchestrated at Huddersfield.

Inheriting perennial relegation-battlers when he took charge in November 2015, the German – looking the epitome of cool, bedecked in black in the technical area – has transformed Huddersfield into a Premier League club in a little over 18 months.

Some turnaround and rapidly achieved, too, with his stock having risen dramatically since owner Dean Hoyle took a gamble on an unknown 44-year-old whose only managerial experience had been with the reserve side of German superpower Borussia Dortmund.

Had they not finished the promotion job they had been threatening throughout a season in which they have punched above their financial weight then Town might have struggled to hold on to their innovative head coach.

Wagner brought his own customised version of Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpress to Huddersfield, took them to a remote Swedish island for a pre-season bonding session, and made a club with small ambitions dream big.

Through it all he has constantly referred to Town as “small dogs”, but the reality is there were a lot of larger breeds barking at the gates of the John Smith’s Stadium should he have been unable to complete the job.

Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Hull City and Middlesbrough could all offer bigger budgets courtesy of parachute payments, or, in the case of Palace, Premier League football without the mental and physical turmoil of the play-offs.

All have been linked with Wagner in recent days, as in the past have Ingolstadt in his native Germany, while along the A62, Leeds United also need a new head coach.

But taking the step with Huddersfield should at least ensure Wagner’s ambition is sated at Town.

You expect he will want to continue the journey and move Huddersfield into the realms of Premier League stability – a statement almost unfathomable 12 months ago, but now a distinct possibility.

That it is a reality owes much to him, and to the players he has prised from the Premier League elite on loan – Aaron Mooy from Manchester City, Izzy Brown and Kasey Palmer from Chelsea – and the band of unheralded misfits from across the nether regions of German football; Collin Quaner from Union Berlin, Elias Kachunga from Paderborn, Christopher Schindler from 1860 Munich.

Every one of them is a player that few Town fans will have heard of before their arrival, but names now that will echo down the ages of this proud football club.

Together they created a myriad of memories in 2016-17 –winning at Newcastle on the second Saturday of the season, Wagner’s uncontrollable sprint down the touchline after a late winner against Leeds, the way they kept Sheffield Wednesday’s expensively-assembled forward line quiet over two legs in the ‘Battle of Yorkshire’.

These are the moments Town fans will cherish and Hoyle will savour those occasions as passionately as any Terrier follower.

The Huddersfield owner, who has pumped millions into his beloved club, lived through the nerves of the play-off final as fervently as any of the 38,500 who had followed their team down the M1 to Wembley.

Television pictures of him gripping the bar in front of his seat, the whites of his knuckles visible as he squeezed harder as a late chance went begging in extra-time before praying to the heavens as penalties began, epitomised the raw adrenalin on which the Town fans lived.

How he puffed out his cheeks at the end summed up the relief –Town’s benefactor in disbelief at what had been accomplished, the riches that await.

Across the directors’ box, Patrick Stewart, the actor and Town’s most famous supporter, beamed from ear to ear.

Huddersfield Town, a Premier League club. Time to believe.