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Clarke focused only on celebrating
Published : 27 May 2012 14:17:08
Huddersfield skipper Peter Clarke refused to look beyond the club's party celebrations after leading his side to a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out win over Sheffield United in Saturday's npower League One play-off final at Wembley.
Former Everton, Blackpool and Southend defender Clarke, 30, produced a real captain's performance, pulling off last-ditch tackles, twice going the closest to breaking the deadlock and coolly converting his spot kick in a shoot-out that ended 8-7 as the Terriers held their nerve following a goalless 120 minutes.
He said: "I've not even thought about being a Championship player yet to be honest. It's an amazing feeling to win though, to be promoted, and I hope the feeling will last for a long, long time. We're just going to enjoy this one for now and see where next season takes us. The dressing room was bouncing. There were a lot of happy people in there."
It was third time lucky for Simon Grayson's side, who lost to Peterborough in last season's final and were beaten semi-finalists against Millwall the year before.
And although both Norwich and Southampton have secured back-to-back promotions into the Barclays Premier League in the last two years, Clarke chose not to look beyond the Herculean effort of the play-off final.
He said: "It means everything to the club. It's been a long time out of the Championship and with all the facilities we have at the club and the fanbase, this club deserves Championship football."
Striker Jordan Rhodes, whose record-breaking 40-goal haul this season has led to speculation that the final could be his last game for Huddersfield, once again refused to shed light on his immediate future.
"I've no idea," he said. "That's not for me to decide. As long as I'm wanted here, I've got a contract here for a few more years and until I'm told otherwise I'll give it my all for Huddersfield Town.
"I'm just delighted. It was a rollercoaster ride and we put the fans through it, with the trip down, all that money they spent on expensive tickets, petrol and getting here, it makes it all worthwhile. Over the course of the season it's been up and down, but we've managed to just sneak over the line after a very tough game.
"It's a very relieving way to win, but there has to be a winner and a loser and there has to be someone who misses a penalty kick and there has to be someone who scores the winner and fortunately for us - and commiserations to Sheffield United - we just managed to sneak over the line."