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7 Of The Best Players to Ever Play For Nottingham Forest

Podcast Blog Post 2

We will be focusing on the cream of the Forest crop, so we will start from 7 and work our way to the best player to ever play for Notts Forest.  

7: Stan Collymore 

Without a doubt, one of the greatest naturally gifted strikers that I’ve ever seen -Newly appointed Frank Clarke signed Stan Collymore in 1993 and he hit the ground running. His superb form in front of goal helped take us back up to the Premier League following relegation at the sad end of Clough’s 18-year tenure. 

Collymore went on to flourish in his first Premier League season, scoring 22 goals most notably his opener in a 2-1 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. He went onto to score 41 goals in 68 games at the City Ground before leaving for Liverpool in 1995

6: Viv Anderson

Another Nottingham born player to makes the list is Viv Anderson, who broke into the Forest team in 1974 and went onto to become a staple in Brian Clough’s European cup winning side. His form for Forest earned him a call up to the national squad, where he became the first black player to represent England. After a 10-year stay at Forest and 6 trophies to his name, Anderson moved onto Arsenal and then Manchester United.

5: Peter Shilton

It is not an exaggeration to state that much of Nottingham Forest's success, during their rise to being crowned the kings of Europe, was built on the rock solid foundations provided by their world class keeper.

Stockier than the average stopper, but still blessed with lightning reactions, Peter Shilton became the England captain during his time at Forest – and went on to win more caps than any other player (125).

But he will be best remembered by Forest fans for his exploits during the late 70s and early 80s. Brian Clough had already tried to sign Shilton during his brief time at Leeds, but finally managed to prise him away from Stoke in September 1977.

The £270,000 fee was a mammoth sum for a keeper, but many – including Clough – regarded it as being among the best money Forest ever spent. "He cost me a record fee and he was worth every penny. A good goalkeeper can save you 18 points. It can mean the difference between winning a title or qualifying for Europe. Shilton was a class act – and they don't come cheap," said Clough.

Forest had just been promoted to the First Division when Shilton arrived – and he helped them to win the title in their first season back in the top division.

The title was secured with a 0-0 draw against Coventry, during which Shilton made a truly breathtaking save to keep out a Mick Ferguson header, that would have denied them the vital point. During that successful campaign, Shilton conceded only 18 goals in 37 league appearances. In total, he kept 25 clean sheets in 1978-9.

He played a starring role again against Cologne, in the European Cup semi-final second leg, to help the Reds book their ticket to their first final.

And when Hamburg were striving for an equaliser at the Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid, in May, 1980, in the second final, he produced two superb saves to deny the Germans.

"His use of angles was a vital element, his size was another and he had the ability to get his body in the way of everything... Shilton was, without doubt, the best," added Clough. Between 1977 and 1982, Shilton made 202 appearances for Forest. During a 30-year career, he played for 11 different clubs.

4: Des Walker

Arguably one of the most talented English defenders ever, Des Walker started his career at Nottingham Forest playing his first game at the tender age of 18. He went on to fix his place as a rock in the Forest back four and helped to win back-to-back league cups in 1989 and 1990 as well as earning a call up to the national side from Bobby Robson, all in his first seven-year spell at the club. After spells at Sampdoria and Sheffield Wednesday, Walker returned to the City Ground under manager Paul Hart, finally leaving the club at the age of 38 after an additional 57 appearances took his total to 354 for the club.

A loyal servant to the club, he will forever be remembered under the chant “you’ll never beat Des Walker.”

3: John Mcgovern

He was not one of the standout players in the side; nor was he one of the most talented.

But ask any of the other players involved in Nottingham Forest's historic rise to prominence and they will tell you that John McGovern was one of the most integral figures.

The Scotsman was professionalism personified; he was a leader and an inspiration.

He was also one of Brian Clough's most trusted figures, having begun his journey with the legendary boss at the age of just 15, when he used to ride his bike to play with Hartlepools reserve side.

Having signed his first pro contract in the north-east, he followed Clough to Derby and Leeds, before joining up with him again, at the City Ground. He skippered Forest to promotion, to the Division One title and to those back-to-back European Cup wins. 

2: Stuart Pearce

No other player, before or since, has ever had the same intense, proud relationship with Nottingham Forest as Stuart Pearce.

The sight of 'Psycho' emerging from the City Ground tunnel, just less than a year ago, on his return as manager, will live long in the memory for anyone who was there to witness it. His time in the dugout, sadly, did not bring the same success as he had enjoyed on pitch.

In more than 500 appearances for Forest, over the course of more than a decade, Pearce never once gave anything less than 100 percent when he pulled on the shirt.

One of the best left-backs on the planet, during his era, Pearce was more than a solid, no-nonsense defender for Forest. He was a leader, an inspiration and a driving force.

His ability to muster formidable power in free-kicks and penalties had keepers quaking in their boots – and brought him a flurry of goals.

Only Bobby McKinlay and Ian Bowyer have made more appearances for Forest, in the history of the club. Even fewer men have had the lasting impact on the club that Pearce did.

Always fiercely proud to play for England, Pearce was equally proud to represent Forest, as his famous clenched fist salute, prior to every single game, demonstrated.

Nottingham Forest's Greatest Ever Player: John Robertson

Another of Cloughs famous European cup winning side (there’s obviously going to be a lot.) Scottish born Robertson was instantly written in Forest folklore after scoring the only goal in a 1-0 European cup winning victory over Hamburg in 1980.

'When you get the ball, just give it to the fat lad on the left', was the oft-repeated mantra from Brian Clough. 

John Robertson did not have pace. He did not even look like a footballer, with his stocky frame. He could also often be found with a cigarette hanging out the corner of his mouth.

But Brian Clough was never concerned about what Robertson did not possess. He merely focused on what he could bring to the team. And, quite simply, for a few brief years, Clough helped to turn Robertson into one of the best players on the planet and, more specifically, into a man who helped Nottingham Forest conquer Europe.

He also provided the golden cross for million pound Trevor Francis to head home in the same competition the year before.

It was such a joy to do the forest 7OTB, if you do not agree with my selections and wish to create your own. 

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