I’d say these are the two most important days of my life,” he said. “Who are we?” Beardsley asked his son, “Red army!” came the shout back. Estimates put the bounty for victory in the Championship playoff final at close to $215 million. The potentially transformative effect of such riches on the winners is clear, but the stakes were particularly high for a Forest side assembled with five loan players, including Manchester United’s James Garner, as well as at least two of its own homegrown young stars — Joe Worrall and Brennan Johnson — whose performances have drawn attention from clubs with deeper pockets. Had they failed to win on Sunday, retaining any of their big names would have been hard. Cooper understood just how much pressure had been lifted from the shoulders of the entire club. ‘We’ve been desperate for something like this and I’ve felt it in the last eight or nine months,” Cooper told reporters. “I’m really proud of everybody connected with the club. It isn’t about individual success. It’s about the club … it’s a magical football club and we’ve just reminded the world of that.” Before being appointed Forest manager, Steve Cooper (center) was a Liverpool youth coach and Swansea City manager. He also guided England’s Under-17 team to victory in the Under-17 World Cup in 2017. ‘I Just Can’t Get Enough’ Sunday’s playoff final was decided by an own goal — Huddersfield’s Levi Colwill lashing the ball into his own net under pressure from
aspect of this once-famous club, leading them on a relentless rise up the table. This season also included FA Cup victories over Arsenal and Leicester City, and a scare for Liverpool, who escaped a pulsating City Ground with a narrow 1-0 quarterfinal win. Even Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was struck by the noise at Forest’s venerable stadium. “It was a massive atmosphere, a massive event. It felt like a European night to be honest. I know it’s a while ago that Nottingham had them, but the crowd is prepared,” said Klopp. Winning the Championship playoff final is estimated to be worth $215 million to the victorious club. ‘Mess things up’ Forest fans were certainly craving success, but they have also learned to expect the worst. “I’ve been so emotional these past two weeks,” Forest fan Malcolm Cox told Sport before Sunday’s game. “We’ve been so close before and always messed it up. But this season has just felt different, everything about it. The fans, the togetherness, the sense of something special brewing. I haven’t seen the City Ground rocking like it has been this season before — even the glory days were not like this, something has just fundamentally changed.” Given their club’s historic propensity to ‘mess things up,’ Forest fans on their way to the game were understandably nervous. Matthew Beardsley was carrying his five-year-old son, Percie, draped in a Forest scarf, on his shoulders. “Along with the birth of my son
another of Forest’s homegrown young stars, Ryan Yates. The second half saw two convincing penalty shouts from Huddersfield controversially dismissed by referee Jon Moss, the first with the intervention of VAR. Forest held on and in Wembley’s vast curving stands, the red clad hordes erupted, bouncing to the sound of the club’s recently adopted anthem, Depeche Mode’s “I Just Can’t Get Enough.” Worrall, who captained the team on Sunday, hailed Cooper’s impact. “He’s given us that little bit of belief,” he told Sky TV’s pitchside reporters. “It’s like a whipped dog, you treat any dog with kindness and they become a nice dog, if you mistreat one then they’re aggressive. “We’ve been a mistreated team, and he’s come in and he’s given us that hope, given us that belief. He killed us with kindness.” For the fans, all that mattered was that their long wait was over. “This is payback from all those awful nights — losing to Woking and Yeovil — and
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