Grant Leadbitter’s joy at getting the promotion job done goes beyond the relief of avoiding the play-offs.
The Middlesbrough skipper may have struggled to go through the agony of the lottery – physically and emotionally.
I’ve been thinking about the play-off final for the last year.
Leadbitter revealed he played through the barrier to lead Boro to the Premier League, but now requires surgery on a hernia.
“Promotion means a lot,” said the former Sunderland midfielder, who has played over 50 times in the top flight for the Black Cats.
“Last year’s play-off final hurt a lot, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been thinking about the play-off final for the last year.
“It’s been difficult going to sleep at night because you think of those moments but this makes up for it.
“The fans deserve it too.
“I’ve got an operation next week – for the last few months I have been playing with injections, so I’ve got to thank the doctor and physios for getting me through.
“I’m looking forward to getting fit for pre-season.”
Leadbitter is one of the North East lads in the cosmopolitan Boro side.
And it was a special moment for adopted Poolie Dimi Konstantopoulos, who has been taken to the Boro hearts.
The former Hartlepool United promotion winner settled in the town a decade ago and has enjoyed a sensational campaign, keeping a string of clean sheets mid-season and holding his nerve as the programme came to a climax.
The 37-year-old summed up his feeling in a seven-word Tweet on Saturday: “I love you all you beautiful smoggies.”