Wolverhampton Wanderers’ young stars were today finally allowing reality to sink in. For them next season there will be no more trips to Bloomfield Road, Selhurst Park or Loftus Road – instead it will be Old Trafford, Anfield and The Emirates.
For the third-youngest squad in the Coca-Cola Championship, Saturday’s promotion after that 1-0 win over Queens Park Rangers was the culmination of a season of hard work.
Just two of Mick McCarthy’s players – skipper Jody Craddock and midfielder Dave Jones – have played in the top flight and the forthcoming season holds much excitement and anticipation for them all.
For Christophe Berra, coming from the Scottish Premier League from Hearts to Wolves was one big step but now just four months on, he is coming to terms with the fact he will be a English Premier League player next season.
Berra, aged 24, said: “I am looking forward to playing in the Premier League and I hope I can make my mark there.
“I am still young and want to prove myself at the highest level.”
Berra, a £2.3 million acquisition in January, accepts life next season will be tough as McCarthy’s side adjust to life in the top flight.
“I know the other teams in the Premier League are there for a reason and we have got to respect them but I am just glad we are there now too,” said Berra.
Wolves need just a point from their last two games to win the Championship title and the Scotland international defender says earning promotion with two games to go has made life easier.
“It has certainly taken the pressure off us a bit for the last couple of games,” he said. “We want to go now and get the league title. All the pressure that was on us is now on Birmingham.
“We can just go and enjoy our games now – we can really enjoy the last two weeks of the season.”
Berra admitted next season’s fixtures were mouth-watering but felt his side would be able to cope with the jump.
“Every game is big next season – they are all huge and we will be playing in some of the biggest stadia,” he said.
“Anfield, Old Trafford, The Emirates – every team you go to will have good players But I am looking forward to the big teams like Manchester United – the ones with history.
“Liverpool, Arsenal – there are some great players up there which as a defender you look forward to meeting.”
Wolves might feel they can now sit back on their laurels but the former Hearts skipper accepts the hard work starts now.
“We will enjoy the next few weeks but then the hard work starts again in pre-season,” said Berra. “It is going to be difficult.”
For young striker Sam Vokes, 18, Wolves’ promotion saw a complete reversal in fortunes.
He said: “This has been a massive year for me.
“I ended up getting relegated with Bournemouth last year and here I am at the complete opposite end of the table - promotion to the big league, the Premier League.
“It is unbelievable. I can’t really believe it. Saturday was the best day of my life. Standing up in the box looking out on the fans was unbelievable.
“This is a massive achievement for the City of Wolverhampton. I think the fans will be on a buzz now until next season.”