Newcastle United have clinched their return to the English Premier League after overcoming ten-man Preston North End 4-1 on a memorable night at St. James’ Park.
And for the players and coach, it has been celebration and excitement galore.
Isaac Hayden, a former Arsenal player, said winning promotion back to the Premier League with Newcastle United is the best moment of his career.
The 22-year-old helped the Magpies to the victory over Preston North End at St. James’ Park on Monday night – a result which confirmed United’s promotion from the Sky Bet Championship.
It is the second time in as many years that Hayden has won promotion from the division, having been part of the Hull City side that won last season’s play-off final.
But the former Arsenal man said going up in his first campaign on Tyneside tops anything he’s experienced in the game to date.
“This genuinely feels like the start of something special. You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself, but I think the club – if I’m being honest – it’s the first time since I’ve been here that everything’s in line,” said Rob Elliot, a defender for the team.
Ayoze Perez struck a brace as United maintained their Indian sign over the Lilywhites, netting his first just five minutes in.
However, Simon Grayson’s side soon hit back through Jordan Hugill, and more than matched the Magpies for much of the first half.
But, from the moment Christian Atsu slotted United back in front just before the break, the visitors never looked like spoiling the party.
As the final half-hour began, Paul Gallagher saw red after handling Isaac Hayden’s close-range header, with Matt Ritchie lashing home from the spot before Perez grabbed his second.
With Preston dead and buried, the Magpies were able to ease over the line in the end, becoming just the second side out of the last 18 relegated from the Premier League to bounce straight back up automatically.
Rafa Benitez, the coach said: “I want to congratulate all players, staff and fans.
“We knew it was difficult at the beginning.
“They said: ‘Rafa doesn’t know about the Championship’.
“It was tough but the hard work of the players and support of the fans made it easier.
“It is not easy to go up first team. In the end 88 points you can’t argue, some games were better than others but we are there.
“We had a lot of episodes were decisions were special. We could be higher and have more points.
“We are and we are pleased to get up and enjoy.”
Newcastle’s qualification followed that of Championship leaders, Brighton and Hove Albion last week.
For Brighton, it was their first promotion to the Premier League in their history.