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.
- Brian Clough
He's been brilliant for the game, the best manager of all time in my book because of what he's done and where he's done it.
- 'Big' Ron Atkinson on Brian Clough
Love him or hate him, most football fans (and quite a lot of people who loathe football) have something to say on the subject of Brian Clough. Outspoken and brilliant on his day, his playing career was cut tragically short by injury. His managerial career, however, showed just what a footballing talent he was.
Born on 21 March, 1935, Brian Clough joined Middlesborough as a 17-year-old after playing for local amateur sides. He was taken on early in 1952, but had to wait over a year before making his League debut against Barnsley in September, 1955. This was due to a strong first team which proved hard to break into. Once player injuries gave Clough a way in, he performed well enough to maintain his position in the starting line-up. A natural eye for the game made him a prolific goal scorer; in fact he was Middlesborough's top scorer for three consecutive seasons. But the club consistently failed to get promoted to the next division and Clough felt increasingly restricted in the standard of football he was playing. It took years, but he finally made the move to Sunderland in July, 1961, having scored 204 goals in 213 matches. Clough only played two seasons for Sunderland, but he kept up his prolific goal-scoring rate, 251 goals in 274 games. He was picked twice for England, but his career came to an end during a Boxing Day match against Bury. Clough and the goalkeeper collided violently and the injury was severe enough to ensure he would not play again.
His playing career might have finished, but Clough had no intention of leaving the game. He spent a few months coaching at Sunderland and then joined Fourth Division Hartlepool United during the 1967-68 season as manager, recruiting his friend Peter Taylor to help him. By the end of the season, Hartlepool were promoted but Derby County had tempted away Clough and Taylor. The pair managed to repeat their success the following season with County finishing top of the Second Division. What was remarkable is that, in the space of a season, County had gone from being an average and none-too-special club to members of the First Division. Clough's reputation as a manager was growing and growing. He stayed for two more seasons, winning the League Championship in 1971-72 and reaching the European Cup semi-final the next year.
In 1973, Clough and Taylor were on the move again following an argument with the Derby County chairman, Sam Longson. They were taken on by Brighton & Hove Albion but only stayed for the 1973 season before heading north to Leeds United. Leeds had been managed by Don Revie but he had recently been appointed to manage England. Clough stayed just 44 days at Leeds, his brusque manner did not win him friends among the players or staff. In January, 1975, he was appointed the manager of Nottingham Forest and showed his ability to get results by guiding the team to win the FA Cup in a replay match away against Tottenham a few months later. The following season, Peter Taylor left Brighton to join Clough at Forest. Taylor proved to be the perfect foil for Clough and brought out the talents of many existing squad members as well as new signings such as Peter Withe and Larry Lloyd. Forest were promoted to the First Division in 1976.
Clough's finest moment undoubtedly came in 1979 and 1980 when he guided his team to two European Cup wins against Malmö FF and Hamburg SV respectively. Unfortunately, from that point on things were less successful; in 1982, Forest finished in the lower half of the league, despite high profile signings such as Justin Fashanu and Peter Ward. This was the cue for Peter Taylor to announce his retirement from the professional game. His friendship with Clough, one of the greatest partnerships in football, was to end the next year when he came out of retirement to coach Derby County and poached Forest's John Robertson. Clough was taking a well earned rest at the time and was never able to forgive his erstwhile friend. Peter Taylor died in 1990; Clough and he were still not on speaking terms.
Clough had plans to revitalise Forest's squad but the club was not in the best of financial health, effectively tying his hands. Despite Forest finishing third in the First Division at the end of the 1983-84 season, all the fans remembered were a string of disappointing results. The club did win back to back Littlewoods Cups in 1989 and 1990 before being runners up in the FA Cup the following year. The 1991-92 season also bought relative success with Forest reaching the League Cup Final and the quarter finals of the FA Cup. The following season, however, was not so satisfying. Forest were relegated and Clough announced his retirement. After the final crucial match, he was mobbed by fans and media alike. It was the end of a footballing era.
Brian and his wife Barbara had three children, the best known being Nigel, who started his career for Nottingham Forest under his father's management. After nine years at Forest, Nigel moved to Liverpool and then Manchester City. When injury ended his career, he followed his father into management by taking the helm at Burton Albion FC. Brian was often found on the terraces, supporting his son's team. Brian Clough never went back to Forest's City Ground. He was awarded the OBE for his services to football and remains a hero to many for what he achieved. Unfortunately 'Cloughie' passed away on 20 September, 2004 - mourned by many football fans. While there was a campaign to have him knighted, he has been honoured in Nottingham with a stand at Forest's City Ground being given his name and Derby Road in the city being renamed Brian Clough Way. Last of all, but not the least, there is also an ongoing fund to raise money to erect a statue of the great man in his home town.
A Life in Quotes
Here are some tasters of the man himself:
I like my women to be feminine, not sliding into tackles and covered in mud.
- Brian on women and football
He should guide Posh in the direction of a singing coach because she's nowhere near as good at her job as her husband.
- Cloughie on David and Victoria Beckham
Who the hell wants 14 pairs of shoes when you go on holiday? I haven't had 14 pairs in my life.
- Cloughie on Posh and her wardrobe
At last England have appointed a manager who speaks English better than the players.
- Brian on Sven Goran Ericsson
Players lose you games, not tactics. There's so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes.
- Brian on the beautiful game