Amid raucous scenes at the final whistle Cardiff City celebrated promotion to the Premier League on Tuesday night, ending their 51-year absence from the top flight of English football on a evening of high emotion in the Welsh capital. A goalless draw at home to Charlton Athletic guaranteed Cardiff a place next season alongside Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, as well as their Welsh rivals Swansea City.
Malky Mackay, the Cardiff manager, paid tribute to the supporters, who have endured defeat at the play-off stage in each of the previous three seasons, as well as acknowledging the part played by Vincent Tan, the club's Malaysian owner, who has pumped £40m into the club.
"I'm very proud of the football club," Mackay said. "The people of this club have had a lot of disappointment. They have been through some tough times.
"The people of Cardiff have waited a long time to be back in the top division and they've never been in the Premier League. They've backed me and they've backed this football team and for that I will be forever grateful.
"Hopefully this goes a little way to repaying the backing that they've given me since I came in here."
Tan, who made the controversial decision to change Cardiff's kit from blue to red last summer, was warmly received when he came on to the pitch after the fans had returned to the stands. "It's a new thing for him," Mackay said. "This season was when he went hands-on at the football club. A lot of credit has to go to him for adapting to that.
"He's a very successful businessman and for him to come over here and give trust to myself and my staff and allow me the chance to bring a group of players together that I felt could be promoted …because there is a formula in this division – you have to get good players but also good characters."
Cardiff will hope to emulate the success Swansea have enjoyed in the Premier League, with Mackay claiming that the club have long had a strategy in place for next season. "It's a huge challenge, obviously we're going into one of the best leagues in the world," he said. "I've got good staff and good people here, the planning has started already and we'll now put that into action.
"We've got to try to be competitive in the Premier League. We have been competitive in this league. One of the promises I made when I came was that our fans will accept mistakes, they won't accept lack of effort. We've competed against every club we've played in the Championship and that will not change in the Premier League."
Mark Hudson, the Cardiff captain, described winning promotion as the highlight of his career and applauded Mackay for the impact he has had on the club since replacing Dave Jones as manager two years ago.
"It's taken a few years, it's been a building process and we've finally done it," Hudson said. "It's a great achievement and the manager has been fantastic for the two years he has been here. He's had a hard job because when he signed we had 10 professionals.
We got to a final [the League Cup in 2012], we got to the play-offs [last season] and it didn't quite happen. But we went again. You've obviously got to take your hat off to the chairman as well because he's backed the manager throughout, and the fans have been patient. The consistency he demands is what we've given him, I think. We've been promoted today but the manager wants us to go on and win the league."