By Tony Leighton

Gary Mills is a rightfully proud manager after leading York City back to The Football League following the club's eight-year absence - so proud, in fact, that he rates the achievement even higher than winning the European Cup as a player.

Mills, whose team beat Luton Town 2-1 at Wembley in Sunday's Blue Square Bet Premier Play-Off final to reach League 2, was just 18 when he was part of Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest team that lifted the European Cup in 1980.

The now 50-year-old Minstermen boss told football-league.co.uk: "It was incredible to be a European Cup winner at such a young age, but I was just one player within a team and so it was more of a team than a personal achievement.

"What I've achieved at York beats that. I put this team together and although it was the players who had to go out and win games, I can take great pride in my personal part in our success and it's a fantastic feeling.

"It's been a mentally draining season, but when that final whistle went on Sunday the emotion was incredible - we'd got this fantastic football club back into The League and it means everything, not just to the club but to the city as well."

An open-top bus tour of the city on Monday evening celebrated not only the Minstermen's return to The Football League but also the fact that Sunday's win had seen them complete a notable Wembley double within the space of eight days.

On the previous weekend they had beaten Newport County 2-0 to win the FA Trophy Final, a success that Mills reckons played an important part in the more crucial matter of winning the Play-Off Final at the same venue.

"Before the Trophy Final," noted the manager, "most of my players had never been to Wembley even to watch a match, let alone play in one. So the experience broke the ice for them and it was invaluable, especially as we won the game.

"That obviously helped boost confidence for the Play-Off Final, and although we went a goal behind in the first minute against Luton we came back really well and I thought we thoroughly deserved our victory."

Now Mills, whose first managerial appointment was at Grantham Town in 1996, is looking forward to what will be his second stint of Football League management having been in charge at Notts County for 10 months in 2004.

He has now managed five non-league clubs, including York, and has led the Minstermen back to Football League level in his first full season at Bootham Crescent following his appointment in October 2010.

"Unfortunately my time at Notts County didn't last too long," he said, "but I knew when I came to York that if I got things right here I would get the opportunity to manage in The League again and that's how it's worked out.

"Now we are thoroughly looking forward to next season. There will inevitably be some changes to the playing squad, but I've got 75 per cent of the players I'll be needing in League 2 and I'm sure they will thrive."