“We now call it the Terriers’ identity.”
That was Huddersfield coach David Wagner explaining the mentality of his side before they head into the new English Championship season.
Caltex Socceroo Aaron Mooy had just joined the club on loan after a stellar Hyundai A-League season convinced Manchester City bring him over to the UK.
The Terriers had just clinched survival in the second division, with Wagner setting the blueprint for what they would be all about as a football team.
“Exactly the style of football I love is like a terrier,” he explained in a fascinating interview with The Guardian in 2016.
“We are not the biggest dog, we are small, but we are aggressive, we are not afraid, we like to compete with the big dogs and we are quick and mobile and we have endurance. We never give up. This small dog has fighting spirit for sure.”
Fast forward almost two years, and this Terriers team – with Mooy at their heart – are safe. In the Premier League.
Their 1-1 draw away to Chelsea, following up from their 0-0 draw away to Manchester City, gave the minnows the two points they needed to confirm their status to play among the top dogs next season.
It almost defies belief.
The team with the lowest wage bill, with their star playmaker playing in Australia 24 months ago.
But what the 27-year-old has done – including providing the assist to Laurent Depoitre’s historic goal – is something that all Aussie football fans should be proud of.
The pass, perfectly weighted over the top of one of the competition's stingiest defences, was utter perfection and earned a host of praise from UK journalists.
"What a ball. Absolute Mooy," wrote The Independent's Chief Football Writer Miguel Delaney.
For The Guardian and FourFourTwo UK's Raj Bains, it was "absolutely outrageous."
For Mooy, it was just another day in the office to cap off a wild season that has seen him score a sublime strike against Newcastle United to earn them their first home win. Soon after he had scored in the win against Manchester United and been essential in the moments that matter.
“We knew it was going to be tough, Chelsea have so many talented players,” Mooy said post-game.
“We had to get close to them and make it difficult.
"David Wagner has kept a level head all season, he has done an amazing job. He gives us belief and confidence."
His coach, who took the club up from the Championship in historic fashion – the first time any team has won promotion with a negative goal difference and the first time any team has won promotion without winning a play-off game – had nothing but pride for his players.
“I am so unbelievably proud,” Wagner said. "I was shocked that we had the lead!
“People said we had no chance, I will not criticise one of them because they were right. We were everything but a Premier League club last summer but we have given it a go.
“We have showed everybody that we are humble but we are ambitious. That is the town, and the club.”
Fans and press alike have heaped praise on the club for the achievement and Mooy has similarly been earning strong reviews for his performance on the right of Huddersfield’s midfield trio after Wagner shifted to a back five in the final games of the season.
“[He was] absolutely superb,” wrote Rory Bensen of the Huddersfield Examiner, giving the Aussie a 9/10 rating.
“[He] picked out Depoitre for the goal and was Town’s standout on the day.”
Mooy was awarded man of the match by fans on The BBC, with a 7.9/10 – clinched by his perfect through ball to Depoitre in the 50th minute.
In a pure backs-to-the-wall display, Mooy’s pass was Huddersfield’s only key pass of the entire match – and the former Melbourne City FC playmaker attempted 31 of his team’s 242 attempted passes. Only goalkeeper Jonas Lössl – with 33 long balls from punts and goalkicks – attempted more.
Mooy also provided bite in the midfield, with seven tackles – a stat which has him in the top five of the entire competition this season.
“For us it feels like a trophy,” added Wagner.
“This is an absolute over-achievement. It is bigger than promotion last season.
“We were predicted as a team that would get relegated by miles - I understood that. We work under circumstances which maybe aren’t even Championship circumstances.
“But part of our DNA is to try. Togetherness is a big part, we are humble, but we are ambitious.”
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