Neil Warnock described achieving promotion to the Premier League with Cardiff City his "biggest achievement" after the Welsh club clinched the Championship's second automatic place with a goalless draw against Reading on Sunday.
Fulham, who were also in contention for promotion, slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Birmingham City to finish third. That result ended Fulham's 23-match unbeaten run in the Championship and forced them to settle for a play-off spot, along with Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and Derby County.
Cardiff finished with 90 points, two points ahead of Fulham but nine adrift of champions Wolverhampton Wanderers.
For Warnock, who was appointed Cardiff manager in October 2016 with the club in the relegation zone, promotion this season represents the eighth time he has led a club to a higher division.
"It's the biggest achievement in my 38-year career by an absolute mile," Warnock said. "I've got a great bunch of lads. It's such a fabulous achievement, because nobody gave us a chance.
"It's amazing. I've had some great promotions and great squads, but because of the circumstances when I came here - second from bottom - and we've built it all the way up.
"It's an amazing feeling for a manager to know that you brought that together."
Birmingham's win helped them avoid relegation for the second successive campaign but there was misery for Burton Albion and Barnsley, who dropped into League One after losing 2-1 to Preston North End and 4-1 to Derby respectively. Barnsley subsequently sacked their manager Jose Morais.
Bolton Wanderers narrowly avoided the drop after staging a comeback in the closing minutes to beat Nottingham Forest 3-2.
Trailling 2-1 with three minutes remaining, David Wheater and Aaron Wilbraham scored to secure Bolton three invaluable points and to preserve their Championship status.
"Strange things happen on the last day and we knew had to keep going right until the end," Bolton manager Phil Parkinson told BBC Radio.
"It's funny what can happen when you need to get a goal in those situations. We were across what was happening elsewhere right through the afternoon and when we got the third goal, you could tell from the crowd's reaction what it meant and that we'd done it.
"Once we got the third goal, we had to batten down the hatches and defend a few corners as we knew absolutely anything could still happen."
Champions Wolves fell to a shock 3-0 defeat at basement side Sunderland, whose relegation to the third tier was confirmed last month.