St. Pauli promoted back to the Bundesliga after 13-year wait

St. Pauli returned to the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 3-1 win over relegated Osnabrück in Germany's second division.

Oladapo Afolayan scored twice and set up Marcel Hartel for St. Pauli's third goal as the home team moved top of the league with an unassailable six-point lead over third-place Fortuna Düsseldorf with one round of games remaining.

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"My emotions are going crazy. I've never felt anything like it," Australia international and St. Pauli skipper Jackson Irvine told the club's website. "Gratitude, joy, simply everything. I'm completely overwhelmed. It's just incredible to see how much it means to people, not just us.

"This is why I came here. I wanted to achieve something for the fans and give the people something, and we've done that by getting promoted.

"It's a huge honour to be captain of this team, something I don't take for granted."

Promotion gives Irvine a first chance at playing in one of Europe's top-five leagues after a successful career in the Scottish Premiership and the lower tiers in England. He and 24-year-old fellow Australian Connor Metcalfe, who signed from Melbourne City in 2022, have been right at the heart of St Pauli's return to the Bundesliga for the first time in 13 years.

"We had belief going into the game. We were prepared," Irvine said. "We gave our all, our hearts, and we worked so hard and now we have this moment together. Amazing."

The top two in the division are promoted, while the third-place finisher -- now certain to be Düsseldorf -- faces a two-leg playoff against the team that finishes third from bottom in the Bundesliga -- as it stands, Union Berlin -- to see which will play in the top division next season.

The playoffs are scheduled for May 23 and 27.

Holstein Kiel, one point behind St. Pauli, secured their first ever promotion to the Bundesliga on Saturday.

St. Pauli were relegated from the Bundesliga in 2011. It will be the first time that the left-wing cult club from Hamburg's red-light district will play in a league above city rival Hamburg SV.

Hamburg, the longest surviving founding member of the Bundesliga, was finally relegated in 2018 after several close shaves. They lost 1-0 at Paderborn on Friday, ensuring another season in the second division.

St Pauli are known for having an alternative fan scene and left-wing supporter base as well as for their social projects in the community, their support for refugees and minorities and their projects such as installing beehives in their stadium roof to raise environmental awareness.

Information from the Associated Press, AAP and Reuters contributed to this report.