Image: The brilliant Jed Steer photo that shows just how far he’s come

Before Dean Smith walked through the doors at Aston Villa, not many will have been tipping them for promotion.

The same could be said of their chances after New Year.

Yet, at Wembley on Monday afternoon the Villans sealed an emotional return to the top flight. Managed and captained by Villa fans, they achieved a stunning accomplishment given where the club was last summer.

One of the focal points of the team over the last few months has been Jed Steer, someone who typifies this team in abundance.

He is full of resilience and determination, driven by a will to succeed, and this was undoubtedly the cherry on top of the cake for the goalkeeper.

As the match reached its end, every ball that came near him was taken into his clutches and held onto like a newborn baby. He was never going to let Villa down.

It’s been a season of highs and lows for the 26-year-old. At the beginning of the term he was demoted to third-choice goalkeeper after the arrivals of Orjan Nyland and Andre Morreira.

He was then sent out on loan to Charlton.

Therefore, to see an image of Steer lifting the play-off trophy would have been unthinkable. No Villa fan would have expected it after he was shipped out to League One almost a year ago.

However, Smith made it possible. Recalling him on the final day of 2018 was a genius move and he’s more than repaid the faith.

Had it not been for the ‘keeper’s heroics in the penalty shoot-out at the Hawthorns, Villa may not have now been preparing for life in the Premier League.

There have been some remarkable stories to come out of Villa Park this season, but Steer’s is up there as one of the best.