Nottingham Forest: Two-time European Cup winners banish nightmares to end 23-year Premier League exile

    That winning feeling ... when you've just been promoted to the Premier League.

    (CNN)Bill Clinton was in the White House, Tony Blair was in his second year as UK prime minister and The Backstreet Boys were on top of the UK pop charts with "I Want It That Way."

    The year 1999 was also when two-time European Cup winner Nottingham Forest last played in the English Premier League.
    On Sunday, this sleeping giant whose somnambulant 23-year wander through English football's lower tiers that has been at turns arduous and almost comically humiliating, finally hauled itself back into the Premier League.
      Roared on by 40,000 imploring fans at London's cavernous Wembley Stadium, the former European champion beat Huddersfield Town 1-0 to complete the most unlikely of comebacks, turning the club's worst start to a season in 108 years into an implausible promotion.
        To anyone over the age of 40, Forest is a name associated with one man -- the great Brian Clough, who famously guided it to promotion, an improbable English top-flight league win, and then back-to- back European Cups between 1978 and 1980.
        The club was a regular challenger for honors throughout the 1980s and early 90s, but was relegated from the Premier League in 1993, its inaugural season.
        Clough departed, and although Forest briefly returned to the top flight under his successor, Frank Clark, its stay was short-lived, and the club was relegated again in 1999.
          Joy is unconfined among Nottingham Forest's fans after the club's promotion to the Premier League.
          It's a promotion that's been 23 years in the making.

          Painful lows

          Forest's generation-long absence from footballing aristocracy had begun to take on an air of hopeless permanence. Two lost Championship playoff semi-finals, to Sheffield United in 2003, and Swansea City in 2011, had been honorable highs amid deep and painful lows.
          Surrendering a 3-1 lead with eight minutes left of its 2007 League One playoff semifinal against Yeovil Town, to lose 5-4 in extra time, is a memory that still haunts every Forest fan.
          Clough managed Forest for 18 years -- in the subsequent 29 years, the club have had no fewer than 35 different men at the helm. Ownership too has been turbulent, the club changing hands four times in the post-Clough era.
          Current owner Evangelos Marinakis, a shipping magnate who also owns Greek champion Olympiacos, took over in 2017 and promised promotion within five years.