Luton boss Rob Edwards will fulfil a dream when he sends his team into Premier League action for the first time at Brighton on Saturday.
Edwards took charge at Kenilworth Road in November last year and guided a club which less than a decade earlier had been plying its trade in non-league football back into the top flight after a 31-year absence.
Life since victory in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final has been something of a whirlwind, with the Hatters busily preparing for their latest – and perhaps biggest – challenge on and off the pitch, but Edwards admits he will feel a huge sense of pride when the dream finally becomes a reality.
He told a press conference: “I’m really proud. It’s hard because you don’t always think about it, you just think about what’s next and don’t always have time to reflect.
“It’s been an aim of mine for long time. I think most people would agree the Premier League is the highest level.”
The game at the Amex Stadium could see skipper Tom Lockyer make his first competitive appearance since collapsing on the pitch early in the play-off final, the result of a heart scare which has since been addressed by surgery.
Edwards added: “This is extremely important and special for Tom. That day was made special by knowing he was OK.
“It was the most scared I’ve ever been during a football game. Health is the most important thing and it’s great to have him back.
“He’s had his own journey as well – he was in the National League and now leading his team out in the Premier League.”
Edwards’ hand has been strengthened since promotion by the arrival of nine summer signings, perhaps the most eye-catching of them former Everton and England midfielder Ross Barkley, and there could be several debuts, particularly with Jordan Clark, Dan Potts, Gabe Osho and Reece Burke all on the casualty list.
Excitement levels are understandably high, but Edwards knows there is a long and tough season ahead.
He said: “We’ve got a big season ahead and it’s been a long time coming since the final kick at Wembley. The elation turns quite real and now we feel ready.
“The fans are the most important people at any football club. They are the most important to me, they’re here before us and they’ll be here after us.
“They’ve been through some really bleak times in the past, so hopefully they can enjoy these moments because they deserve it.”