After a successful season under the management of Steve Cooper, Nottingham Forest are now preparing themselves for Sunday, as they face Huddersfield Town in the Championship play-off final.
Huddersfield Town have experienced promotion to the top flight before and will be hoping they can replicate the experience this weekend.
However, former Forest defender Michael Dawson has urged Cooper’s side to take their opportunity when it comes.
Dawson had two spells with the Reds between 2001 and 2005 and then 2018 to 2021 before retiring.
However, it was with Hull City when Dawson got his promotion to the top flight in 2016 and he has passed on words of advice to his boyhood club as he told Nottinghamshire Live: “It’s special. It really, really is. It’s an opportunity to change their lives as players. And to get the club back to where it belongs, in my opinion.
“It’s been 23 years out of the Premier League, which is way too long. The fans are amazing. It’s a major football club which should be in the big-time.
“They have a chance to be heroes. That’s what it comes down to.
“I’ve played in the play-offs final with Hull City, who had only been out of the league for a era and bounced straight back. But the relief and joy is one of the best days you will ever experience as a footballer.
“Some of the guys might not get a better moment in their careers than getting the chance to go play in the Premier League. It’s life-changing, not just for the individual but for everyone at the club. I know what it’d be like for the staff as well.
“Huddersfield fans and players will be saying the same; they know what it’s like, because they’ve been in the Premier League recently and haven’t bene out of it for too long. They will know what it means, too. It’s an incredible game of football.
“You know what it will do for the owners, for the club and everyone involved, as well as for the city. The Premier League is the best league in the world; it is, with the finances, the worldwide exposure and everything else.
“As someone who has not long been out of the game and who knows those players, I know it’s an opportunity for them to fulfil their dreams. You don’t get many of those chances. If you are fortunate enough to experience winning at Wembley, it’s an incredible day and an incredible achievement.”
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As a Forest fan himself, Dawson has stressed the importance promotion could have for the players who have been there since they were young as he said: “It would be unbelievable if they can do it. I watched the club that last time there were in the Premier League.
“I had to leave [Forest] to go and fulfil my dreams as a professional footballer. You love the football club, but as a player, you go on to play in the Premier League, play for England, play in the Champions League…That, unfortunately, wouldn’t happen for me at the club I grew up watching.
“But these lads…Joe [Worrall] is Nottingham through and through, Yatesy [Ryan Yates] and Brennan [Johnson] have been there since they were young lads. For them to have an opportunity is incredible. This is their club, and no team has been as close as these guys for as long as I can remember.”
Dawson’s words of encouragement to the team are exactly what they will need to hear right now.
Of course you don’t want to pile the pressure onto them but it’s worth them being reminded what an opportunity it is to be promoted and what that success could bring them.
Furthermore, the former-Reds man points out that when he was young there was never the chance of a successful career sticking with Nottingham Forest. However, if they can make it to the top flight then their fortunes could really change in terms of the type of player they are able to attract.
Forest have been out of the top flight for so long now and although this will be a tough game, the Reds will be hoping their luck is about to change an da return to the Premier League is incoming.