'Like we were fighting for our lives' - How Chris Wilder motivated Sheffield United's players to make club history with 100 points, on this day in 2017

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Over 31,000 fans crammed inside Bramall Lane. The club sold out of commemorative programmes. Leon Clarke continued to struggle with opening champagne bottles, which was strange considering the amount of practice he had in the weeks previous.

On this day in 2017, Sheffield United's remarkable and breathtaking journey to the Premier League took its first significant step when they finished the League One season in style, overcoming neighbours Chesterfield at a packed Bramall Lane to reach the 100-point barrier for the first and only time in the club's history.

Promotion had been secured some weeks earlier, on a magical day away at Northampton. The league title followed soon after and, with three games remaining, boss Chris Wilder set his Blades side a new challenge; win all three and make club history by hitting the century mark.

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"After we finished on 99 points at Northampton, I was desperate for us to get to 100 that season because I wanted us to leave our mark on the division, and wanted this team to leave their mark on the history of this great club," Wilder said at the time.

"I understand it wasn't in the Premier League and these things are relative, but I wanted this team to go down as one of the great ones in United's history. I certainly believe they deserve to be up there with the others."

Skipper Billy Sharp led the way, scoring his 30th goal on the final day to become the first Blade since Keith Edwards in 1983/84 to reach that mark, but it was an unlikely hero in Daniel Lafferty who scored the decisive winner against Chesterfield to solidify the class of 2016/17's place in United folklore.

"The gaffer was never satisfied," said Paul Coutts, a man who began that season on the transfer list and ended it with a champions medal around his neck.

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"When he set us the target of 100 points, in those three games it was honestly like we were fighting for our lives in the dressing room. Nothing other than a win was acceptable and looking back at it, it's quite weird! But everyone bought into it at the time - and look where it took us."

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Leon Clarke eventually opened the champagne before spraying it all over his teammates - Pic David Klein/SportimageLeon Clarke eventually opened the champagne before spraying it all over his teammates - Pic David Klein/Sportimage
Leon Clarke eventually opened the champagne before spraying it all over his teammates - Pic David Klein/Sportimage

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