SAM Long described promotion with his hometown side as ‘the best thing ever’.

The Bicester-born defender has been with Oxford United since the age of eight, racking up 245 appearances for the club.

After helping the U’s clinch promotion in the Sky Bet League One play-off final, Long was full of praise for how his teammates took the game to Bolton Wanderers, who were fancied by many as the favourites.

Long said: “It’s the best thing ever, I can’t quite put it into words at the moment. We’ve had the heartbreak of losing here, and this is my fourth time here as a player, and we did it.

“We’re in the Championship and we did it the hard way. Some say it’s the hardest way, but the best way to do it. The feeling is incredible.

“We took the game by the scruff of the neck. We didn’t allow their strengths to get on top, and I think everyone to a man was on it, and it showed in the performance.”

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Long was selected at right back ahead of Brentford loanee Fin Stevens, and he said if the roles were reversed, then it wouldn’t have mattered as it was the group mentality which meant more.

He said: “It’s all about the team, and it’s all about getting promoted. We were all in the same boat, and it didn’t matter who played or whatever happened, as long as we got promoted.

“For me being a local lad, it meant so much to play, and to get the win was incredible.

“I had my family here, and my little girl, and my fiancée. To do it in front of them means everything to me, and we go again next year in the Championship.

“We’ve worked so hard this year to get things right. It’s not been easy with the managerial change, it’s always difficult.

“It took us a little bit of time to settle into the new regime, but you can see we all bought into it, and we thoroughly deserve to go up.

“They were the favourites, and we were the underdogs, and nobody really gave us a prayer.

“We showed that we’re capable of being in the Championship with that performance.”