LONDON — Two-time European Cup winner Nottingham Forest is back in the top flight of English soccer for the first time since 1999.
Forest beat Huddersfield 1-0 in the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday to secure its return to the English Premier League next season.
The most lucrative match in soccer — it's worth £170 million pounds ($273 million) in future broadcast money and guaranteed earnings — was settled by an own-goal by Huddersfield defender Levi Colwill just before halftime.
Forest had a late scare when goalkeeper Brice Samba was injured and replaced in the 89th minute by American Ethan Horvath, who made his first appearance since March 20 in the FA Cup quarterfinals.
Huddersfield, which had two strong penalty appeals waved away in the second half, finished the regular season in third place — one spot ahead of Forest — as it sought a first return to the Premier League since relegation in 2019.
Forest joins champion Fulham and second-place Bournemouth in getting promoted from the Championship.
Forest is a big name in English soccer, having won back-to-back European Cups, in 1979 and '80, under Brian Clough.
But it fell on hard times, even becoming the first ever European Cup-winning club to fall into the third division of a domestic league system.
Forest did it the hard way this season, too. The team was in last place — with six defeats and a draw from its first seven games — when Steve Cooper took charge in September and the former Swansea manager has transformed Forest's fortunes.
Asked to assess Cooper’s contribution to promotion, Forest captain Joe Worrall said: “I keep using the expression ‘like a whipped dog.' If you treat any dog with kindness, then they become a nice dog. If you mistreat one, then they’re aggressive, and we were. We’ve been a mistreated team.
“He’s come in and he’s given us that hope, given us that belief and he’s just been so nice. He’s just killed us with kindness and the fans absolutely adore him."
Colwill, a centre-back on loan from Chelsea, was unfortunate to put the ball through his own net in the 43rd minute after a teasing cross from Forest striker James Garner.
That means Canadian international Richie Laryea could be playing in the Premier League next season, mere months after joining Forest from Toronto FC in January. Laryea was not part of the matchday squad on Sunday having made the bench in both legs of the playoff semifinals.