LONDON — Huddersfield Town will play in England’s top division for the first time in 45 years after beating Reading 4-3 in a penalty shootout on Monday in the League Championship playoff final, world soccer’s richest single game worth a minimum $220 million.
After the teams ended extra time tied at 0-0, Christopher Schindler converted the winning spot kick at Wembley Stadium for the team managed by German-born American coach David Wagner.
Huddersfield, which was the English champion each year from 1924-26, was most recently in the top flight in 1972. The northern team will be the 49th different club to play in the Premier League since the competition’s inaugural season in 1992.
Promotion is worth at least 170 million pounds ($220 million) because of future prize money and broadcast earnings from being in the Premier League, the wealthiest league in the world.
"We can give lots of people hope," Hudderfield chairman Dean Hoyle said. "Smaller clubs can keep believing; you can achieve the impossible."
The 45-year-old Wagner, a former U.S. international, arrived at the northern English club in 2015 from Borussia Dortmund, where he was reserve-team coach, and only just managed to keep Huddersfield in the second tier.
From that 19th-place finish, Wagner worked wonders on one of the smallest budgets in the division — signing many players on loan and from Germany — to challenge for the title this season. Huddersfield eventually dropped away to finish in fifth place, two spots behind Reading.
Now Wagner will be coming up against managers like Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp, who was coach at Dortmund when Wagner was at the German club. They are long-time friends.
"I am so happy because when I arrived, people said I had no experience, no experience of British football, no experience of players — I always had to fight against that," Wagner said.
"It’s proved experience is important but not everything. It’s heart and desire."
Reading, managed by former Manchester United defender Jaap Stam, was most recently in England’s top division in the 2012-13 season.