Tendayi Darikwa could not hide his immense ‘pride’ at leading Wigan Athletic back to the Championship as League One champions on Saturday.
Darikwa picked up the trophy after Latics beat Shrewsbury 3-0 to ensure top spot after a gruelling 46-game campaign.
And the Zimbabwe international believes the squad have every right to be chuffed after cementing their place in Latics history.
“I’m so proud – proud of the group and proud of the whole club,” he said.
“It’s been a long, tough season and, after the last few games, we came here with a bit of pressure on us.
“But we wanted to be champions, and to deliver a performance like that is testament to the group.
“Days like this don’t always come around in this game. Some of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game didn’t win anything in their careers.
“Every league, every title, is tough to win, and to come out on top after 46 games is a credit to the lads.”
Darikwa was perhaps a surprise pick by Leam Richardson last summer to wear the armband this term.
But he’s more than repaid the fair of a manager who’d worked with him previously at Chesterfield, and recognised his leadership qualities on and off the pitch.
“It’s hard to put into words, to be fair, what this means,” Darikwa added.
“The lads have worked hard all season, the gaffer’s brought in some unbelievable characters.
“To stand here now as captain of this team is a huge honour for
Wigan Athletic needed just a point to be confirmed as the champions of the third-tier English league but put on a dominant performance to secure promotion in style.
Will Keane scored twice after Josh Vela scored an own goal for Shrewsbury in the first half.
Wigan’s return to the second tier of English football comes two years after they dropped out of the Championship following a points penalty for going into administration.
Rotherham’s win over Gillingham secured them second position and automatic promotion to the Championship while MK Dons had to settle for third spot and a play-off place despite a 5-0 thrashing of Plymouth Argyle, who missed out on the top six.
Wigan Athletic’s promotion caps off a memorable season for Darikwa after successfully guiding the team to promotion in his first season as the club captain.
The former Burnley and Nottingham Forest fullback played a pivotal role in his team’s quest to win the promotion this term, missing just three games in the league this season.
The triumph, meanwhile, sees him returning to the English Championship having been released by Nottingham Forest over a year ago.
🗣 "I'm proud of the Football Club, as a whole."
— Wigan Athletic (@LaticsOfficial) April 30, 2022