Charlton were promoted to the Championship in dramatic fashion on Sunday as Patrick Bauer’s last-gasp winner sealed a 2-1 victory over Sunderland at Wembley.
Charlton defender Bauer poked home from close-range to settle the League One play-off final in the dying seconds of stoppage time after Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin had parried his initial header.
Lee Bowyer’s side, beaten in the play-off semifinals last season, will return to English football’s second tier for the first time in three years.
The south London club recovered from a disastrous start when Naby Sarr’s fifth minute backpass eluded dozing Charlton keeper Dillon Phillips for an embarrassing own goal.
Ben Purrington tapped in Charlton’s equaliser in the 35th minute to finish off a fine move featuring a pin-point cross from Lyle Taylor.
And with extra time of a tense clash only seconds away, a quickly taken Charlton free-kick ended with captain Bauer guiding his side back into the Championship.
For once, Charlton fans were able to set aside their protests against the club’s hated ownership as 36 000 celebrated their promotion.
It was a sweet moment for former Charlton midfielder Bowyer, who began his career at the club before joining Leeds in 1996.
“It’s not sunk in yet. All I’m seeing is all these proud people. I’m so proud of my players, they just keep going and going,” Bowyer said.
“I said it in the semifinals, they just give me everything. I’ve said it many times. You need a group of players and this crowd.
“To bring this all back together, it’s been some season. I’m proud of everyone. This is probably the proudest moment of my whole career.”
It was the cruellest way for Sunderland to be consigned to a second year in England’s third tier after they were also beaten at Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy final against Portsmouth.
Sunderland will be sick of the sight of Charlton at Wembley after famously losing the 1998 Championship play-off final against the Addicks on penalties after an incredible 4-4 draw.