A lot has been said and written about Brian Clough before and after his death, but no one can argue that the man is a full blown legend of the English game.
A manager of 1319 games with Hartlepool, Derby, Brighton, Leeds and Nottingham Forest, he is seen as one of the greatest managers in the history of the game with a knack of taking over struggling clubs and turning them into giants.
It’s not often that Derby and Nottingham Forest fans agree on footballing matters, but ‘Cloughie’ is seen as a club legend by both sets of supporters ,as he took them both from the bottom half of the Second Division to the top of the First Division, winning the Championship in 1971/2 with Derby and 1977/78 with Forest.
He was not the shyest of characters and that is probably what stopped him getting more caps for his country as his club record was outstanding, scoring 251 goals in 274 games for Middlesbrough and Sunderland before his career was cruelly ended by injury in 1964.
He knew for some time that he wanted to be a football manager. When he injured his cruciate ligaments while at Sunderland, he spent time with the Sunderland youth team coaching and it was here that he realised that he wanted to be a football manager.
He started his career at Hartlepool (then known as Hartlepools United) before enjoying huge success at Derby County. David Peace’s novel ‘The Damned United’ (which was later made into a film starring Michael Sheen) reveals some of the tension behind the scenes between Clough and Derby chairman Sam Longson.
While the book is not an entirely factual story, it is described as a fiction story based on fact and it does detail the troublesome relationship between Brian Clough and Peter Taylor with Sam Longson and the rest of the Derby County board.
While not so successful spells at Brighton and most famously Leeds United followed, Brian Clough confirmed his status as a managerial great when he joined Nottingham Forest.
He managed 907 games for Forest, winning 411 of them as he guided them to the First Division title, 2 European Cups, the European Super Cup, four League Cups, 2 Full Members Cups, the FA Charity Shield as well as the Anglo-Scottish Cup.
A record like this speaks for itself and ‘Cloughie’ was underrated by the powers that be in the game. While he had the respect of his players, his fans and the media, the FA never trusted him to lead the national team despite public outcry for him to be given the role on a number of occasions during the 1970s and 1980s.
He announced his retirement from the game at the end of 1992/93 season and while he was gone from the game, his legacy still goes on today.
A number of statues have been built in his honour in his home town Middlesbrough as well as in Derby and Nottingham, as well as having the largest stand at the City Ground renamed the Brian Clough Stand.
Since Clough’s death in 2004, their hasn’t been another English manager like him. The way in which he could completely change a game from the touchline was mesmerising and respect he demanded – and received – from his players is something you don’t see too much in the modern game.
Brian Clough was either loved or hated in the game, but no one can question his ability as a manager. He was described as the greatest manager that England never had, but had he been appointed, England may not be going into the next World Cup 52 years without a trophy.
There is absolutely no doubt the Brian Clough is a legend of the English game.