Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle has said that winning the Championship title with Newcastle is one of the biggest achievements of his career so far.
The Magpies have spent much of the season being criticised by some for not running away with the division as they fought for a way back into the Premier League, a charge fiercely defended by manager Rafael Benitez.
However, it was all smiles on Tyneside on Sunday afternoon when a 3-0 victory over Barnsley coupled with Brighton’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa handed striker Gayle and his team-mates, who had already secured their number one objective of promotion, the trophy.
Asked if it was his biggest achievement, the £10million summer signing from Crystal Palace said: “I’d definitely say it’s up there.
“It’s my favourite season and my favourite end to a season. I was saying to a few of the boys, ‘You’re going to remember this for the rest of your lives’.
“Winning things is the most important thing and the fact that we won the Championship is a great achievement. We’re all buzzing about it.
“It was a fantastic day for us. The fact that we managed to do it in the end was a great feeling. It was a big thing for the players, the coaching staff and the fans as well.
“We’re thankful for the fans and the way they’ve turned up in numbers home and away. We’re glad we got there.”
Gayle’s goals have been a major factor in Newcastle’s instant return to the big time and only persistent hamstring problems prevented him from mounting a sustained challenge for the title of the division’s top scorer.
However, the 26-year-old played a late cameo against Barnsley, coming off the bench to score the final goal and his 23rd of the season seconds before news of Villa’s equaliser filtered through to the stands.
He said: “The most important thing for us was to get back up, but you have your personal targets and I reached that. Hopefully, I can push on for next season.
“I’ve had some bad times with my hamstrings and it was probably best for me to just sit it out, but obviously I always want to be playing and to miss this last day would have been gutting.
“I’ve been doing as much as I can and the physio team have been helping me. I’m glad I got the last 10 minutes of the game.”