Southampton swept back to the Premier League after an absence of seven years on a wave of joyous emotion at St Mary’s.
Three years after they went into administration and were 10 points adrift at the bottom of League One, Nigel Adkins’s impressive team followed the example of Norwich City by securing successive promotions.
Now they can set their sights on the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and the rest of the big guns.
On the day when 32,363 — the largest crowd in the club’s 127-year history — turned up to roar them to promotion, Southampton gave a performance worthy of the occasion, leaving no doubt about their right to join champions Reading in the top flight.
After losing two of their three previous league matches to offer hope to third-placed West Ham, the south- coast team efficiently completed what they had been threatening to do all season.
Goals from Billy Sharp, Jose Fonte, Jos Hooiveld and Adam Lallana ensured Coventry were dispatched with plenty to spare, anxiety was kept to a minimum and their supporters savoured a day they will never forget.
Adkins, who said he was disappointed to miss out on the title, having led the race for so long, was relieved and excited by the day’s events.
On their day of destiny Southampton could not have had more accommodating opponents. Coventry will be playing in the third tier for the first time in 48 years next season and it was not difficult to see why.
While Southampton showed all the style of the Championship’s leading scorers, the visitors displayed the defensive frailties of a team who will soon be playing their football two divisions lower.
Thus it was Twenty past two on Saturday, April 28, 2012 was the moment Southampton rejoined English football’s elite.