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The Magnificence of Brian Clough

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

“telling the entire world and his dog how good a manager I was. I knew I was the best but I should have said nowt and kept the pressure off 'cos they'd have worked it out for themselves.”

Brian Clough.

There was only one Brian Clough. A truly magnificent man who carved a legacy and a niche in English football and made history as he marched forwards with Nottingham Forest.

Cloughie spent nearly 20 years at the City Ground – managing the club from 1975 through to 1993. Seeing the club go from unfashionable ‘no-hopers’ in the second division to back-to-back winners of the greatest prize in European Club football. Not bad for a man who was told ‘You’ll never win anything here’ by former manager Dave MacKay.

Brian Clough was a man who knew where he was going and defied expectation – and he took Nottingham Forest from 13th in the second division to promotion to winning the first division to winning the European Cup in 1979 and then again in 1980. He is responsible for the first ever £1 million pound transfer in British football history (doubling the existing record)

Nottingham Forest never made it to Europe again and have the unusual stat of having 2 European Cups for every 10 games they played in the competition. A record that will never be beaten as teams now have to play more than 10 games in each competition

He even continued to manage Forest into the Premier League. Clough saw it all, lived it all and still is iconic in the city of Nottingham – not every football manager gets a statue, but Cloughie’s likeness stands tall in the heart of Nottingham, and for good reason. He was a complete one off and was always meant to be immortalized

1. Brian Clough Quotes

Never one to shy away from speaking his mind (both on and off camera) the wit and wisdom of Brian Clough lives on with his enigmatic quotes. Every single thing he said is laced with charm, wit and arrogance. Cloughie knew he was special and he wasn’t afraid to tell people

This is our collection of our favourite Brian Clough Quotes

“Good managers make good sides. There’s no such thing as a side making a manager” – on lucky players.

“We talk about it for 20 minutes and then we decide I was right” – on listening to players' opinions.

"I wouldn't say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one"

“The River Trent is lovely; I know because I have walked on it for 18 years”

“Beckham? His wife can’t sing and his barber can’t cut hair.” –on a new breed of player

"For all his horses, knighthoods and championships, he hasn't got two of what I've got. And I don't mean balls!" – on being compared to Sir Alex Ferguson

"My wife said to me in bed, 'God, your feet are cold.' I said, 'You can call me Brian in bed, dear.'" – Being Charming

There are countless examples of Brian Clough Quotes – every time he went on TV or to the press, magic happened, Brian Clough said what he meant, meant what he said and did it with a smile on his face

Its incredible to think just how he would have managed in the world of social media – because Brian Clough on Twitter would be a thing to behold!

2. Goals as a player

There is more to Brian Clough than the manager of Nottingham Forest. As a young man he played professional football and in typical Cloughie style, he made history doing it.

Brian Clough was born in Middlesbrough in 1935 and when he was 20 years old (after national service) he played for his home town club as a striker. Brian Clough played 222 games for Boro and scored 204 goals, a goal in every 1.08 games. To this day he is still the 41st highest goal scorer in football league history. This included scoring over 40 goals a season for 4 seasons running.

Brian Clough being the man he was, was getting frustrated with scoring countless goals but his team to winning due to defensive problems and started to fall out with the rest of the squad, accusing them of betting against the team. He even once asked the team how many he needed to score for the team to win after a 6-6 draw at Charlton.

In 1961 Clough was sold to Sunderland and scored 63 goals in 74 matches, 1 goal in 1.17 games including 24 goals by December.

Brian Clough is best remembered as a manager, especially after his success with Nottingham Forest, but credit does need to be given to his incredible career and goalscoring record in the North East.

His overall goal ratio is 1 goal in 0.916

3. The Miracle Men

Brian Clough is, and always will be, synonymous with Nottingham Forest.

It is Brian Clough that made Nottingham Forest into what they are and what they became. It’s no exaggeration to say that Brian Clough turned Forest into one of the ‘big teams’ in the country, and for a brief time Europe.

The transformation at Nottingham Forest was nothing short of a miracle – hence the reason that even now over 40 years later the team are known as the miracle men. Cloughie took an unfashionable team, with out of favour players and made them the best in Europe.

He started building the squad as soon as he arrived in 1975, raiding his old teams Leeds and Derby for the players he wanted, believed in and could play ‘his’ way. Signing up future legends such as John McGovern and John O’Hare, refreshed the careers of John Robertson, Martin O’Neill and Viv Anderson. Brought in the experience of Frank Clark on a free transfer from Newcastle, transformed Tony Woodcock from a forgotten midfielder to an England capped striker and signed Kenny Burns from Birmingham and changed him from a tough striker to a tough centre back turning Kenny into a semi-regular Forest Captain and FWA player of the year in 1978.

This was the magic of Brian Clough – he knew what he wanted to see on the football pitch, knew which players he needed to achieve it and then managed the men to perform to his expectations.

Brian Clough was a footballing genius.

It was this mentality and drive that pushed Forest to the heights of Europe. It’s the greatest story in English football history and it will never be repeated.

Clough took Forest from 13th in the second division with zero expectation. He started building in 1975 and by 1977 he had won promotion to the first division; He then won the double of the League and League cup in 1978 ensuring he qualified for European competition.

Outside of the famous 1979 and 1980 European Cup victories – Forest under Clough won the League cup a further 3 times, full members cup twice, the Charity shield, European Super Cup and the Anglo-Scottish Cup.

Brian Clough will also be remembered for being the manager that broke the British Transfer record and made Trevor Francis the first ever Million Pound Footballer. Despite this incredible statement of intent Clough kept Francis away from European Competition until the final! With the million-pound man chomping at the bit to prove his value and position in the team he scored the winning goal that won Forest the 1979 European Cup – it was Francis’s first ever European game and he won the medal and scored the winning goal. It was another genius move from Old big Head

4. Gary Mills

Managing Nottingham Forest was more that just the big marquee signings and the glory. Brian Clough controlled every aspect of the football club. He was Nottingham Forest and Nottingham Forest was him. (There are very strong rumours that this level of control is what prevented him being named England Manager)

Brian Clough made sure he knew everything that was happening at the club and in particular the young players coming through – to maintain the success of the football club. One such young talent was Gary Mills.

Gary Mills was 17 years and 201 days old when he won his first European Cup medal – the youngest to ever achieve this accolade and a record that still stands to this day! Again, Brian Clough knew that this young man would have the will and desire to succeed in a team of established players and claimed that ‘if you are good enough, you are old enough’

Millsy build a career on this reputation and took Cloughies style and winning mentality to further his career, by becoming a Leicester City Legend who captained them to promotion and an established manager in the lower leagues

Check out our blog on Gary Mills here

*** Click the image ***

5. The legends of Brian Clough

Not many men leave a legacy like Brian Clough. His reputation and successes are incredible, but the behind-the-scenes stories are where the real magic lies. There are many, many stories about Brian Clough that get told and whilst many are unbelievable and outlandish – in the case of Brian Clough, you never know where the truth lies!

We spoke to 3 former players who crossed paths with the iconic manager – and the tales they told were all equally magnificent!

Mark Crossley on how Brian Clough Dealt with David Currie

Dean Saunders on Brian Clough trying to sign him

Glyn Hodges on Brian Clough meeting the Crazy Gang

Despite all the pomp and circumstance, Brian Clough did have a humble side – he was a man of the people and appreciated his good fortune – his words on how he would like to be remembered are a world away from the bombastic persona

However, what does remain, is the fact that Brian Clough will always be remembered

“I want no epitaphs of profound history and all that type of thing. I contributed - I would hope they would say that, and I would hope somebody liked me,” On how he would like to be remembered.”

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