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Wagner walks the walk as tiny Terriers chew up critics

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-31 07:08

Wagner walks the walk as tiny Terriers chew up critics

Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner (black suit) and his players celebrate winning England's Championship playoff final to secure promotion to the Premier League at Wembley Stadium, London, on Monday. John Sibley / Reuters

LONDON - David Wagner's arrival at Huddersfield Town was greeted with scorn, but just 18 months later the German has silenced the critics by masterminding the club's fairytale promotion to the Premier League.

When Wagner was plucked from his role as Borussia Dortmund's reserve-team coach by Huddersfield owner Dean Hoyle in November 2015, many observers predicted his lack of experience in the notoriously cut-throat Championship meant the appointment was doomed to failure.

Ian Holloway, then a television analyst and now Queens Park Rangers manager, called Huddersfield a candidate for relegation at the start of this season.

But Holloway and the rest of the doubters underestimated the urbane Wagner's pioneer spirit, inspirational personality and tactical prowess.

Having revitalized the Terriers with a host of youngsters signed on loan from the Premier League, Wagner rewarded Hoyle's faith in spectacular fashion in the Championship playoff final at Wembley on Monday as Huddersfield beat Reading 4-3 on penalties after a 0-0 draw to return to the top flight for the first time in 45 years.

Winning promotion, worth $218 million to the Yorkshire club, was a sweet moment for Wagner and, drenched in champagne from his players' celebrations, he arrived at a post-match media conference keen to remind his critics of their folly.

"By the way, Ian Holloway, all the best for next season," Wagner said.

Wagner walks the walk as tiny Terriers chew up critics

"A lot of the pundits wrote us off. I'm so happy to prove experience is not essential, especially here in England, which is so traditional.

"I've been in confrontation with experience ever since I've been here. People said I'm not used to English football, I'm not used to not having a winter break, and I'd never been in the playoffs before.

"Well, experience is important, but if you have passion and ideas you can match it."

Wagner's triumph is even more impressive when you consider Huddersfield's budget ranked among the lowest in the second tier.

Turning a drab former mill town into a host venue for the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal is the stuff of dreams.

"The people that remember Huddersfield being in the top flight are very old," said Wagner, 45.

"It's special. I'm so proud for the players and so happy for the whole town.

"We set no limits, now we know where our limits are - in the Premier League.

"I told the players they are heroes. They had the opportunity to become legends and they have done it."

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