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Albion are better prepared than ever to thrive in the Premier League according to the club legend who shared in play-off heartbreak three times.

Inigo Calderon jetted over from his new home in Cyprus in time to witness Albion book their ticket to the top flight by beating Wigan.

He was greeted like a hero by fans before the game and congratuated the players afterwards as they left the field.

Calderon has a promotion and title on his Albion CV.

He scored in the win over Dagenham which took them up from League One six years ago and was in the side which then secured the crown with victory at Walsall.

The Basque full-back gave his all to three Championship promotion campaigns which ended in deflation.

But, as he waited for that Huddersfield result to come in which made promotion official, he was willing to concede that the current crop have the best chance of any to make a go of it in the elite.

Calderon appeared in play-off defeats to Crystal Palace in 2013 and Derby in 2014.

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He was on bench for the two-leg showdown with Sheffield Wednesday almost a year ago.

Interest in the current team’s promotion push has been widespread among former players.

Calderon said: “I was the one representing a lot of players who were here before in this process.

“I am happy for them as well because I think everyone who was here in the past has played a small part.

“But the ones who are here now are the ones who have done a massive, massive job.

“It has been a process. It is not one year. This club has been growing up so much.

“We trained on a bad pitch, playing in a stadium that wasn’t a stadium (Withdean).

“Maybe we weren’t ready before, when we lost to Palace for example. Maybe we didn’t have the training ground to bring players to the club.

“I want to think we weren’t ready and it is easier to think like that, that we are ready now.”

The alternative theory is that Albion would have been better going up ASAP and getting on the gravy train of massive TV payments, even if they came back down.

Burnley have done it that way, West Brom did a few years back. Hull might also be going that way, although there always seems to be an air of unrest coming from Humberside.

But it is not that easy to bounce back. How many clubs have Albion visited in the past six years whose fans seem to feel the Championship is somehow below them all of a sudden?

Clubs who are struggling to get their fans excited about the second tier having tasted, even if only briefly, the top flight.

The Championship champions of 2013, Cardiff City, would appear to be an example of that. Reading, champions in 2012, also came back down and have yet to get back on the bubble which restores them to the Premier League.

The Argus:

It is easy for us to spend Tony Bloom’s millions for him. It would have made things much easier on his finances had Albion had a couple of yo-yo years.

But did they have the right foundations at those stages?

Crucially, the near miss of last year was the only one of the three which was not followed by a summer of off-pitch turmoil.

The weeks after the play-off defeat of 2013 were filled with acrimony and intrigue as the club and Gus Poyet parted ways and a new boss was sought. Oscar Garcia stepped down within hours of play-off defeat at Derby a year later.

Last year, by contrast, Chris Hughton reported for work bright and early the day after play-off defeat to Sheffield Wednesday and discussed strategy for this season with directors.

We sometimes use the word ‘campaign’ in newspapers as an alternative to ‘season’.

In this case, it almost feels like one long campaign across two different seasons since the summer of 2015.

Calderon said: “The important thing is to go up and stay up. It is not to go up, touch it and come back. You have to be ready.”

You cannot choose your moment to go up, of course.

Could Bruno, now very much a veteran, have done with them getting there in his first or second season?

The current skipper signed as a 31-year-old in the summer of 2012 with promotion very much on the agenda.

He must have thought it was going to be relatively easy when they hit top spot in his seventh league outing. Now, 176 appearances later, that promotion has been secured and the title could follow.

He did it the hard way. At times there seemed to be fans who resented the fact he was selected ahead of their favourite.

Many supporters for a long time believed Calderon was the better right-back.

But the two players never saw themselves as rivals for the position.

Calderon said: “I have been with him so long, I know him.

“I know everything he has done to push on for the team and that is why I understand his tears of joy “His tears were my tears. When you are getting older you realise how hard it is to get this type of thing.

“Maybe you have one or two like this in your life. You have to enjoy this moment.”