Nottingham Forest's first European Cup win revisited

Nottingham Forest's Trevor Francis, scorer of the winning goal, takes a closer look at the European Cup
Nottingham Forest's Trevor Francis, scorer of the winning goal, takes a closer look at the European Cup Photo: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

Ahead of this weekend's Champions League final live on ITV, we take a look at the success Midlands teams have had in the competition.

NOTTINGHAM FOREST 1-0 MALMO

Forest's first ever European Cup victory in 1979 capped one of the most remarkable turnarounds in football history.

Trevor Francis of Nottingham Forest (l) heads the winning goal past Malmo goalkeeper Jan Moller (r)
Trevor Francis of Nottingham Forest (l) heads the winning goal past Malmo goalkeeper Jan Moller (r) Credit: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

Four years earlier, Forest were dangerously close to relegation to the third tier of football and ended up finishing 16th in Division Two.

It was thanks mainly to the appointment of Brian Clough as manager that they were spared that embarrassment. It was Clough who masterminded this golden period for the Midlands club and did so through faith in the players already at his disposal and a number of key signings.

Nottingham Forest's Trevor Francis (right) celebrates his winning goal
Nottingham Forest's Trevor Francis (right) celebrates his winning goal Credit: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

Clough made he sure he kept the likes of Martin O'Neill and Viv Anderson and made John O'Hare and John McGovern (who had both played under him already) his first signings.

Clough also created the centre back pairing which would prove to be the rock of his dynasty as he brought in Larry Lloyd and Kenny Burns from Liverpool and Birmingham (both of whom were at that point reserve players).

Nottingham Forest's Larry Lloyd (right) looks on as captain John McGovern (left) lifts the European Cup
Nottingham Forest's Larry Lloyd (right) looks on as captain John McGovern (left) lifts the European Cup Credit: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

Clough also spent big and invested a then significant fee of £270,000 in Peter Shilton which proved a masterstroke as Forest conceded just 24 goals in 42 games on their way to the 1977/8 Divison One title in their first season back.

Ahead of the 1978/9 campaign, Clough bought Gary Birtles and Trevor Francis, the first ever million pound player at £1.15m.

Nottingham Forest's Kenny Burns celebrates with the European Cup whilst surrounded by photographers
Nottingham Forest's Kenny Burns celebrates with the European Cup whilst surrounded by photographers Credit: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

Forest qualified for the European Cup as champions and came through a tough first round match against Liverpool. After a 2-0 first leg advantage Clough is said to have offered a £3k bonus to each player if they came through the return match. A 0-0 result saw them into the next round.

Comfortable wins over AEK Athens and Grasshopper Zurich followed before they pulled off a shock by defeating the German champions Cologne.

Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough (r) and his assistant Peter Taylor (l) celebrate the team's win
Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough (r) and his assistant Peter Taylor (l) celebrate the team's win Credit: Peter Robinson/EMPICS Sport

In the final against Malmo Clough showed his ability to make tough decisions as he dropped regulars O'Neill and Gemmill. Francis had only been eligible from the semi-finals and he came in instead to make his first European start for the club.

It proved an inspired decision as a cross from Robertson was headed in by Francis just before half-time for the only goal of the game.

Nottingham Forest's Larry Lloyd, third left, and Ian Bowyer, third right, hold the European Cup aloft as they tour Nottingham
Nottingham Forest's Larry Lloyd, third left, and Ian Bowyer, third right, hold the European Cup aloft as they tour Nottingham Credit: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Never slow to make a comment, Clough gave an assessment for the match only he could make.

It wasn't a great game but they were a boring team, Malmo. But we still won, so who cares?

– Brian Clough, manager, Nottingham Forest

By Joe Lobo.