Remarkable - How Nottingham Forest went from relegation threatened to the Premier League

It is one of the most amazing stories in football in recent years.

In the East Midlands, we are used to seeing our clubs overcome seemingly insurmountable odds on the way to glory and what Steve Cooper and Nottingham Forest have done this season is remarkable.

When the Welshman walked into his very first press conference as Forest boss in 2021, the situation could not have been any more different then it is today, as the club desperately tried to find the right formula to get back to the Premier League.

Since they were last in the Premier League they've experienced League One and failed play off campaigns. Amazingly for a club with such a rich history, they hadn't even played the new Wembley stadium, which opened in 2007.

But Steve Cooper has been. He was at Swansea City for two seasons, guiding them to the play offs, sneaking in at the expense of Forest who spectacularly fell out on the last day of the season despite being there for much of it.

Although the Swan's didn't make the final that year, last season they did - only to be beaten by Brentford.

In any event, by the time Cooper was appointed at Forest, fans welcomed him with open arms. They knew the man they were getting was a brilliant manager, and so it's proved. But promotion was not on fans' minds back in September. Far from it. Forest were bottom of the table having won just once after 8 games. Their win? Ironically, Huddersfield Town.

But Steve Cooper's impact was instant. The club went on a 5 game unbeaten run, winning 4 of them and brushing aside Barnsley and Birmingham City. Those results took Forest from bottom to 12th in the league in the space of a month.

A defeat against Fulham ended that before another unbeaten run, this time of 9 games. By Christmas after a 2-1 victory against Hull City, Forest were just a point outside of the play offs. 

From relegation threatened to promotion challengers in a matter of months.

Signings were made in January. Steve Cook, Sam Surridge and Kienan Davis provided steal at the back and goals up top. 

The second half of the season was in sharp contrast to the first. From Boxing Day until the end of the regular season, Forest lost just 6 and won a staggering 14 matches. That didn't include an outstanding FA Cup run where Steve Cooper's side went toe to toe with the best.

Forest's run to Wembley was only halted by a Liverpool side who were aiming for an unprecedented quadruple and would beat Chelsea in the final.

Nottingham Forest at Wembley Stadium

But that run made football fans across the country realise that something special was happening under Steve Cooper at the City Ground. By the time of their defeat to Liverpool, Forest were 8th and a point off the play offs.

Seven of the next eight games would be won, including victories over West Brom, future champions Fulham and 5-1 thrashing of Cooper's old club.

They even had a chance to go up automatically, but fluffed a performance against Bournemouth in a showdown at the start of this month- meaning it was the Cherries who went up.

And so to the play offs. Sheffield United who themselves had just been in the Premier league were the opponents. Forest were comfortable in the first leg and should have taken more than a 2-1 lead back home.

But on a tense Tuesday night, the Blades came out on top over 120 minutes and Forest's fate would be decided on penalties. 

Thousands of Forest fans gathered in Nottingham's Old Market Square to celebrate on Monday

The heroics of Brice Samba would send the Reds to the new Wembley for the very first time. 

The rest as they say, is now history and Steve Cooper could not be happier of the journey he and the players have been on.

Whatever happens next season, it will always be him who ended Forest's exile from football's elite. So what does this mean in real terms and what needs to happen next?

They call it the 170 million game for good reason. Forest were last in the Premier League in 1999 and it is a very different place now. It's worth billions of pounds and is well and truly a global machine. When Forest were relegated that season, the Premier League had only been in existence for 7 years. The league is worth a fortune and the stakes are so much higher.

Teams like Manchester City and Newcastle United are now among the world's richest and the very best players in the world have been and want to be there.

It will also boost the local economy too.

Cooper and Forest will need to invest in the playing staff- that is a certainty. Teams like Sheffield United, Norwich City, West Brom and Fulham know how hard it is to not just get there, but stay there. They mostly yo-yo between divisions and so the key to staying is long term development.

The Premier League is an unforgiving place too. Huge clubs like Newcastle United and Leeds United have been relegated, a fate Everton almost suffered. If you get it wrong, it can be horrendous for fans- Just ask Derby supporters. 

Keeping hold of Steve Cooper whatever happens is also important. If results aren't going the Reds way, a knee jerk reaction can sometimes be counter productive. Watford, Norwich and Burnley all changed their manager this season and went down. Although Leeds and Everton did too and stayed up, Cooper has earned the right to stay for as long as he feels it's working.

Fans will no doubt enjoy the moment and fear no one. They'll look forward to welcoming Leicester City again after the FA Cup drubbing and having Manchester City and Liverpool facing the noise of the City Ground will be a sight to behold.

There will be highs and lows next season, of that you can be assured. But Forest supporters should enjoy the ride, it's only just begun!