Steve Cooper spoke of his pride in leading Nottingham Forest back to the Premier League, while Michael Hefele said Huddersfield were “robbed” by VAR in the final.
Levi Colwill’s own goal sent Forest back to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years as he clinched a 1-0 Championship play-off final win over Huddersfield at Wembley Stadium in Wembley.
Forest were bottom and winless when Cooper took charge in September – now they have won football’s most lucrative game and are promoted to the top flight.
Cooper tells Sky Sports: “I am very happy for the players and the fans. I think we played well in the first half. And we did it, everyone associated with this football club deserved it today and we look positively to the future.
“It’s a relief, of course, but also pride. I love being at this football club. It changed my life. My family is here, the players’ families are here – this football club is about belonging to a city. We took over Wembley today and are in the Premier League.
“This football club builds on positive eras of the past and we want to build on that. We’re proud of that, but at the same time we have to think about what if?” Can we get the Premier League? Can we play attractive football? What if we can develop young players? And we did that by showing an attitude and a commitment not to be beaten. We deserve it.
“It’s a glamorous world as a footballer and as a manager, but it’s also a tough and hateful one. And I just wanted the players to know that I’ll be their biggest supporter and I’ll give them my all through thick and thin. That doesn’t mean that I’m gentle with them or not asking anything of them, but everyone loves to be loved, that’s what we tried to achieve with the players.
“Huddersfield was robbed”
Carlos Corberan’s Huddersfield might have felt they should have been awarded penalties twice in the closing stages of the second half.
At the first event, Harry Toffolo was booked to dive after apparently being clipped by Jack Colback. VAR agreed to the on-field call.
The second came when Lewis O’Brien was brought down by Max Lowe in the box. However, referee Jon Moss was again uninterested and VAR did not review the incident.
Sky Sports Expert and former Huddersfield defender Hefele was outraged that VAR didn’t overturn either decision.
He said: “Shocking. Huddersfield was robbed. The VAR is here. If you don’t give the first penalty you have to give it because you know you made a mistake for the first.
“If the referee can’t see it and his team can’t see it, which is bad, then obviously we have VAR for a game this big and they have to see it. It’s unacceptable that they don’t give a penalty because it’s a clear touch. I’m not a bad loser but that’s a clear penalty and how on earth the VAR boys can’t see that is shocking.
fellow Sky Sports Expert Jobi McAnuff agreed VAR should have helped the referee more. He said: “There is contact [on O’Brien] but this is how this contact is initiated. That’s a tough nut to crack. Much harder than the first I would have given. But again there was no review or time for the referee to take a look. If you have VAR, go and use it. We have it here for this specific purpose. Look how much is at stake. Just go to the monitor and make your decision. I think we can all live with this decision a little better then.”