LONDON: Nottingham Forest remembered Brian Clough as the architect of “one of the great football achievements of all time” after their former manager died from stomach cancer on Monday, aged 69.
Clough led Forest to European Cup triumphs in 1979 and 1980 and the east midlands club led the tributes to one of the most successful managers in English football history.
“This is a very sad day for everyone connected with Nottingham Forest FC,” Forest chairman Nigel Doughty said in a statement. “The success he had here goes down as one of the great football achievements of all time.
“Wherever you go in the world, the city has become synonymous with Robin Hood and Brian Clough and there is no doubt he has touched the lives of so many people in the area.”
Clough also took Forest to the English League title as he guided the unfashionable club to the pinnacle of the game.
“It has come as a real shock,” former Forest striker Trevor Francis told Sky Sports News. “We were all together back in May at a (25th anniversary) dinner for the European Cup win and the icing on the cake was seeing the boss and he was in great form.”
Clough made Francis the first million pound footballer when he bought him from Birmingham City and the striker scored the only goal of the 1979 final against Malmo.
“Over the years he was always recognised as one of the outstanding English managers and should have been boss of the England team but that was never going to happen. He ran a club from top to bottom and you could never do that with the FA.”
Derby County, who Clough led to the title in 1972, added their tribute with chief executive Jeremy Keith saying: “He was this club’s greatest ever manager and, in the eyes of Rams supporters, the best the world has ever seen.”
The flags at Derby’s Pride Park stadium were flying at half mast on Monday as fans laid flowers outside the main entrance.
“The contribution he made, not just to Derby County, but to the county itself, will remain as a lasting legacy to the man who had made Derby his home for the last 30 years,” said Keith.
Former Forest captain Martin O’Neill, now manager of Celtic, said: “I knew he’d gone through a liver transplant but I thought things were pretty good, so it’s a shock to me personally, and I’m very sad to hear that he’s gone.”
FA chairman Geoff Thompson said: “Brian was not only a unique figure in the game but one of the most successful managers we have ever known. This is a great loss to football.”
Duncan McKenzie, the only player Clough signed during his 44-day spell in charge of Leeds United in 1974, told Sky Sports News: “I thought he was immortal. He was box office wherever he went.”
“It was a totally different style of management to what I have ever seen before or since.”
“He ruffled feathers everywhere, that was part of his make-up but there was always a sense of amusement before the brashness.
“He was compulsive viewing. Most people liked to hear what he had to say because he made such sense,” said Francis.
Former Derby manager Dave Mackay, who led them to the title in 1975 after Clough left for Leeds, told Sky Sports News: “He has done a marvellous job everywhere. He was an absolute one off. You could never meet another Brian Clough – ever.” – Reuters