Rob Elliot says winning the Championship title with Newcastle United was the best moment of his career.
Elliot and his team-mates lifted the trophy last weekend after beating Barnsley 3-0 at St James’s Park.
Newcastle finished a point ahead of Brighton and Hove Albion after a dramatic afternoon.
Elliot – who ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament playing late last season – was recalled by Rafa Benitez for the final three games of the season.
And the 31-year-old said: “I am really buzzing for the lads – I’ve been more a supporter this year.
“It’s been a massive achievement.
It was a brilliant feeling finding out we had won the league – the biggest of my career.Rob Elliot
“We have a team and a squad that everyone can be proud of.
“It was a brilliant feeling finding out we’d won the league – the biggest of my career.”
United had their critics given that the club spent tens of millions of pounds on signings last summer.
Newcastle, however, were able to record a £30million profit in the transfer thanks to a number of high-profile departures.
Villa had a net spend of just over £30million and finished in a mid-table position.
“It is easy to say that Newcastle should get promoted, but doing it over 46 games is a whole different story,” added Elliot.
Newcastle were at their best away from home in the Championship – Benitez’s side recorded a club-record 14 wins on their travels – and their home form came under scrutiny.
Elliot believes that St James’s Park must be turned into a fortress next season.
“The noise (against Barnsley) was unbelievable,” said the Republic of Ireland international.
“We have to take that with us every game. We have to make this place a horrible place to come.
“We need to take that with us next year.
“Hopefully, we can push on.”
Newcastle, relegated last season, have come a long way under Benitez.
And Elliot believes a bond between players and fans has been reestablished.
“You can see that with the fans,” he said.
“To fill out St James’s every week, with the away support – it has pushed us on.”
Elliot added: “This stadium, these fans, this city deserves Premier League football.”
Elliot had a long wait for a taste of Championship football because of the form of Karl Darlow.
After recovering from his knee operation, he had to patiently wait for a chance.
Elliot finally got an opportunity against Preston North End late last month.
And United’s 4-1 win over Simon Grayson’s side at St James’s Park saw them secure a return to the Premier League.
Asked about his comeback, Elliot said: “I couldn’t believe it.
“If you’d said to me six months ago that this would be the way I would make my comeback, in circumstances like this, I wouldn’t have believed you.
“The ups and downs, helping even in a small way, has been excellent.
“We really have a fantastic set of lads.
“They really do deserve to wear the shirt.
“Not only have we had to deal with the pressures of the league, we also had to have people criticising us for winning the league.
“So, just well done to everyone.”