Paul Heckingbottom hails the ‘stuff of dreams’ as Barnsley gain promotion

Barnsley caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom celebrates with the trophy after winning the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo

Barnsley caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom celebrates with the trophy after winning the Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo

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Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom saluted his “amazing” players as the club secured a memorable promotion back to the Championship.

Goals from Ashley Fletcher, Adam Hammill and Lloyd Isgrove deservedly saw the rampant Reds claim a 3-1 win over Millwall in this year’s League One Play-Off final.

Mark Beevers pulled a goal back for the Lions, but the Reds proved too strong as they tasted Wembley glory for the second time in two months.

“I can’t put it into words what we’ve achieved, it’s incredible,” beamed Heckingbottom. “We’ve had some hard times, but battled through and earn it [this success]. It’s the stuff of dreams to do what we have done, it’s only starting to sink it.

“Hard work and determination has really helped us pull through. It’s hard to put it [our achievements] into perspective, but I’m so proud of the players.

“They’ll never know how proud I am of them, but more that that I’m just so pleased for them. I asked the players to be selfless and to chase this promotion.

“I had to do the same about getting the job on a permanent basis, but now we’ve done that and we can start talking about contracts and plan for the future.”

Last month Heckingbottom’s side won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with a 3-2 win over Oxford.

But having been rooted to the bottom of the table in November, winning promotion to the second tier of English football is a mch more impressive achievement. And how Heckingbottom, his coaching staff and his players rightly celebrated at the final whistle in the capital.

“We were just focusing staying up back in November,” added Heckingbottom.

“I wanted for us to tighten things up and we did – and we just got better and better.

“We’re good at imposing ourselves on the opposition, which is something we got better at and it worked for us.”

Millwall manager Neil Harris reflected: “We came with hope and expectation, but we’re left with nothing apart from pride for an excellent season.

“We lacked a bit of quality, but we’ve got no excuses because Barnsley deserved to win the game.”

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