Gary Mills. The Youngest Ever European Cup Winner
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
In 1979 Brian Clough led Nottingham Forest to the heights of European Football and won the European Cup.
Cloughie joined 'unfashionable' Nottingham Forest in 1975 and was told by previous manager Dave Mackay 'You will never win anything here'.
Forest were currently adrift in 13th of the old second division and not considered a progressive club with a bright future - Brian Clough, however, never did what was expected.
Forest won promotion into the first division, the won the league and qualified for Europe, broke the British transfer record and made the first ever £1 million signing, won the European Cup in 1979, then won it AGAIN the following year in 1980.
Forest hold a unique record in Europe of having 2 trophies for every 10 games they played - and since the rules of the competition have changed this is a record that will never be beaten!
Its no wonder that 4 decades later they are still referred to as the Miracle Men.
Another of the records that was set in that golden era of Nottingham Forest was by a young man from Northampton named Gary Mills. Mills was an emerging talent in the Nottingham Forest squad and played a part in the 1979 European Campaign making him the youngest ever man to win a European Cup Medal at the age of 17 years and 201 days. Another record that stands to this day...
Gary Mills autobiography 'Young Millsy' is due for release very soon - telling his story in football that started in his teenage years at Nottingham Forest and continues to this day.
We welcomed the man himself to Superstar Speakers HQ for a signing session and interview as he prepares to tell his life story and found out 5 interesting facts about Young Millsy
Gary Mills is one of the few men to have won the European Cup and played in the Premier League
The European Cup was founded in 1955 and then re-branded in 1992 as the Champions League. English Football's first division was re-branded as the Premier League in 1992 - therefore there is a very small number of men who can claim that they have played in the Premier League AND won the European Cup (not the Champions League).
The list consists of Ian Rush, Bruce Grobbelaar, Ruud Gullit, Paulo Futre, Trevor Francis, Viv Anderson. Gary Mills can be added to this illustrious list as he Captained Leicester City into the Premier League via the playoffs in 1994 and lead the Foxes back into the top flight of English Football
2. He continued to play football 30 years after winning the 1979 European Cup
Gary Mills was still playing football at the ripe old age of 47 for Tamworth. Mills had always believed in fitness and looking after his physical well being (which must have been a challenge growing up in the Nottingham Forest team of the 1970s!) but it has served him well and he continued lacing up the boots until he was nearly 50 years old.
Mills retired from professional football in 1996, due to an injury, and focused on his blossoming career as a manager, but he was always listed as a player manager and brought his own level of skill and experience to the teams he managed up until 2010 when he finally hung up his boots.
We asked Gary Mills all about Nottingham Forest's new crop of young talent - Find out what he said here by clicking the image
3. He is still in football and a respected manager in the lower leagues.
In 2020 Gary Mills returned to his home county of Northamptonshire and took the management position of Northern Premier League's Corby Town.
Having learnt the art of management from the master Brian Clough throughout hsi teenage years - management was the obvious path for Mills, who was regularly questioned about the great man during his playing days at Leicester City.
(on David Pleat) 'he would ask me at times 'what would Cloughie do?' I've got to be honest though at times David overplayed and over complicated things, without having the real desire to win games in an ugly way when you needed to'
Many players who played under the brilliance of Brian Clough continued his legacy and stepped into the cut throat world of football management. including Martin O'Neill, Stuart Pearce, Trevor Francis, David Needham, Viv Anderson, Frank Clark and John Robertson
In his career as a manager Gary Mills has the Southern Football league Midland Division with Grantham in 1998, Conference North with Tamworth in 2009 and brought York City to the Conference play offs in 2012 winning the FA Trophy in 2012 and 2017.
He was recognized as Conference North Manager of the year in 2009 and Non-League manager of the year 2014.
When asked about his management style he simply says
"My philosophy is to play football with the ball on the deck, to play attacking football, to be disciplined with and without the ball". He prefers to employ a 4–3–3 formation, explaining it allows his teams to play entertaining football and makes them hard to beat, and it brought him success when at Tamworth and York. He has stuck with this formation despite charges from some of being tactically stubborn, saying: "I'm not going to change the way my teams play, the systems. I've not even had a thought about that"
Cloughie would be proud
Check out our Exclusive Gary Mills Memorabilia by clicking the image below
4. He is a Leicester City Legend
Despite his success and reputation with the miracle men of Nottingham Forest, Gary Mills is fondly remembered as a legend at Leicester City. Making 232 appearances and scoring 16 goals for the Foxes between 1989 and 1995.
After signing from Notts County, Mills established himself in the first team and his never say die attitude and commitment to the club earned him his popularity with the fans.
He was named player of the year 1990.
In 1992 we set a Leicester City club record of playing in ALL 62 fixtures and scoring 7 goals. He was named Leicester Player of the Year once again. It was this season that Leicester made the second division playoffs.
Leicester continued to succeed and achieve under the captaincy of Gary Mills as they reached the first division play offs in 1993 and then again in 1994, finally returning to top flight football.
5. He scored for a goal for England at Wembley and a try for England at Twickenham in the same year.
At 15 years old in 1977 (only 2 years before the Nottingham Forest European Cup victory) Gary Mills was a genuine young sporting prodigy. Representing his country in both Football and Rugby.
Obviously Gary decided that football was the path he would take in his career and he spent his teenage years at Nottingham Forest under the guidance of Brian Clough.
ever the student Mills remembers Brian Clough 'turning him into a man' saying "you might as well learn at 14 as at 24 son?"
Despite being a two time European Champion before he was old enough to drink and a representative of England Schoolboys in both Football and Rugby, Gary Mills never got to represent England at a senior level only earning 2 caps for England Under 18s and another 2 for the Under 21s
Gary Mills' autobiography 'Young Millsy' is coming soon!
Gary Mills is one of the Nottingham Forest Legends that are scheduled to appear at our huge Miracle Men reunion - find out more here by clicking the image
Don't forget to keep up with our latest news and offers by subscribing to our mailing list at the bottom of the page