Cardiff City sealed their promotion to the Premier League after a 0-0 draw with Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night, bringing an end to their 51-year absence from the top flight.

A point was enough for the Welsh side to exorcise the memories of three consecutive Championship playoff defeats on an unforgettable night at the Cardiff City Stadium, which was swiftly followed by emotional scenes as jubilant fans invaded the pitch and hometown hero Craig Bellamy collapsed to his knees in tears.

A robust performance from an in-form Charlton ensured that Bluebirds fans endured a tense evening, but news that Millwall had taken the lead against Watford in their Championship encounter sparked euphoric celebrations around the stadium.

Gianfranco Zola's side needed a win at The Den to retain any hope of catching Cardiff, but a goalless draw in the Welsh capital ultimately ensured that the party was already underway regardless of the result in south east London.

Only three years after the Welsh club narrowly avoided a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill, the Premier League now beckons. Manager Malky Mackay was quick to pay tribute to the club and its fans after a long and exhaustive journey back to the summit of English football.

"I'm very proud of the football club tonight, it's an occasion which the fans of this football club have waited a long time for, and they've had a lot of disappointment in their time," an emotional Mackay told the club's official website.

Malky Mackay
Cardiff boss Mackay has taken the Bluebirds to the Premier League (Reuters)

"I am talking about the backroom staff who have been here and been through some tough times, the directors, our owner who has put an awful lot of money into the football club over four years and obviously the players.

"But especially the people of Cardiff. They have waited a long time to be back in the top flight and they've never been in the Premier League and they have backed me and the football team since I've been here and for that I will be forever grateful. Hopefully tonight goes somehow to repaying that faith."

In addition to their three consecutive play-off losses, an FA Cup defeat to Portsmouth in 2008 and a loss to Liverpool in the final of the League Cup last season may have left some fans feeling that the day when they would finally be graced with the opportunity to step out of Swansea City's shadow may never come. But promotion, combined with real signals of intent from the club's Malaysian chairman Vincent Tan, will provide the club with that platform next season, as a new dawn in the Premier League awaits.

Vincent Tan
Cardiff's chairman Vincent Tan (Reuters)

"I've seen first-hand, living in the area, the near-misses and the heartbreak that we've had at the club, and it's been tough," Bellamy told BBC Sport. "But slowly we've just gained momentum and gained direction and started really pushing forward over the last few years.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams I'd ever see the club in an FA Cup final, I would have never thought I'd have seen Cardiff in a League Cup final. But Premier League was the one we all wanted and to play a small part in it as a player myself, it's just an honour and something that will live for me for a number of years."