May 18, 2014 at 4pm UK at ​Wembley Stadium
CambridgeCambridge United
2-1
Gateshead
Hughes (51'), Donaldson (71')
Champion (20'), Cunnington (87')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Lester (80')
Maddison (7'), Oster (23'), Clark (70')

Cambridge United promotion delights local lad Luke Chadwick

MK Dons' Luke Chadwick celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Wigan during their FA Cup third round replay match on January 14, 2014
© Getty Images
Luke Chadwick speaks to Sports Mole after his local club Cambridge United secure promotion back to the Football League.

He may have made 39 appearances for Manchester United, including one against Bayern Munich, before turning out for the likes of West Ham United, Stoke City and Norwich City, but Luke Chadwick has told Sports Mole that securing promotion to the Football League with Cambridge United yesterday afternoon was the best moment of his career.

The 33-year-old was born in the East Anglia-based city, but switched to Old Trafford as a youngster, where he worked his way up through the ranks before being given his senior debut by Sir Alex Ferguson in 1999.

He remained a supporter of his local team, though, and when the chance presented itself in March for him to spend the remainder of the campaign on loan with The U's from his parent club MK Dons, Chadwick accepted the opportunity.

The winger came off the bench in the 65th minute during Sunday's 2-1 victory over Gateshead in the final of Conference playoffs at Wembley, which in turn sealed Cambridge's return to the Football League following a nine-year absence.

"People have laughed about what I've said about Manchester United in the past, but now I'm older, I appreciate things a bit more. This is the best moment of my career by a long, long way. To be out on the pitch at Wembley when the final whistle was blown for the club that I've supported for 25 years or so is amazing," he told us at the end of the game.

"I'm the most unemotional person in the world - I don't cry about anything, but as soon as that whistle went, I couldn't stop crying. I was trying to regain my composure, but every time I was thinking about what had just happened, the tears would come again. It was crazy - I've never cried like that in my life.

"It was my first time playing at Wembley, but when I came on as a substitute it's strange because all I wanted the referee to do was blow for full time."

Chadwick still has 12 months left to run on his contract at the Stadium mk and, as the situation currently stands, he will report back to his League One employers for pre-season training.

However, if an agreement between all parties can be reached, Chadwick has confessed that he would "love" to extend his stay with his boyhood club.

"I'd love to be [at Cambridge]. It's my club, but football is not always a fairytale, despite the fact that it has been a fairytale of sorts for me over the last three months. I'll have to see what happens and talk to Milton Keynes, as well as seeing what Cambridge want to do," he added.

Yet, with or without his services, Chadwick is confident that Cambridge, under the management of Richard Money, have enough quality to ensure that come this time next year, they will remain a Football League outfit.

"What surprised me when I came here was not just the size of the squad, but the quality in it. There are top players that didn't make the bench at Wembley. The spirit is so good at the club," he said.

"The manager schooled the players well during pre-season and has had them working hard throughout the season. I'm sure with the current squad and a couple of additions, they have every chance of being more than competitive [in League Two]."

The win was Cambridge's second of the campaign at Wembley having lifted the FA Trophy courtesy of a 4-0 triumph over Gosport Borough in March.

Ryan Donaldson of Cambridge United celebrates his goal with team mates during the Skrill Conference Premier Play-Offs Final against Gateshead on May 18, 2014
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