Derbyshire CCC head coach Karl Krikken says the LV= County Championship Second Division title is his best achievement in 26 years with the county.
The former wicketkeeper won the 1990 Sunday League and the 1993 Benson & Hedges Cup during his playing days at the County Ground.
But he revealed that bagging his first trophy as head coach, and securing First Division cricket for the first time since the year 2000, felt 20 times better.
Derbyshire sealed their place at the summit of the table on Friday as Usman Khawaja’s unbeaten 72 led them to victory over Hampshire at the County Ground.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve had at Derbyshire,” Krikken said.
“Even though we won things here in the early 90s, I was an individual. With being a coach and working with the team all year, I’m delighted 20-fold.
“I’m so pleased for the players because they’ve worked hard this campaign and they thoroughly deserve it.
“We’re the only side to win six games and all those victories came from taking 20 wickets.
“Other sides have had the benefit of contrived finishes where they’ve not had to do the hard work of bowling opponents out.
“We’ve bowled teams out twice and we’ve knocked off the runs. Our success has been hard earned over the course of a tough season.”
Krikken praised the pride his young charges have demonstrated during a campaign that saw them win six and lose just one of their 16 four-day matches.
And the 43-year-old says Derbyshire will continue to put their faith in youth as they embark on life in the First Division next season.
Krikken said: “If you play for Derbyshire you’ve always got a bit of an underdog mentality.
“All the players have shown so much pride in representing the club. We fight, we battle and we basically play as though we have a ‘proud to be Derbyshire’ sign wrapped around our necks.
“It’s been a massive effort from everybody and today couldn’t have been a better day.
“The chairman’s got to be thanked massively for formulating the policy of getting youngsters into the forefront of the squad.
“We’ve also recruited well, but only one of the so-called old-stagers is over 30 and we’ll go along similar lines next season.
“We’ll put our faith in youth, the coaching staff will focus on the Academy and we’ll put our efforts into keeping guys coming through.
“We’ll let the dust settle then we’ll prepare the best we possibly can to play good cricket.
“We’ve been planning for a little while, speaking to some players and thinking about which areas we’ve got to improve. But the people we’re trying to attract are under 25s who are hungry to play cricket.”