Nottingham Forest and England legend Viv Anderson reflects on his career

Mark Kielesz-Levine sat down with the Nottingham Forest and England legend, to reflect on his amazing career, and some of the issues still facing the beautiful game.

There aren't many players who've had the same impact on the game as Viv Anderson.

He was twice the European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest and became England's first senior black player.

He was described as an "exciting player" by legendary manager Brian Clough who also said he had a habit of scoring "absolutely magnificent and spectacular goals".

The trailblazing talisman opened the door for many others including Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright - right up to Arsenal and England starlet Bukayo Saka.

But even 45 years on, he remains humble.

Viv Anderson

He told ITV Central: "I can't tell you the last time I thought of things like that. I was very pleased to be in a decent team that got a lot of recognition.

"Winning the European Cup is a big accolade, winning the league, you know, so I was around at the right time when, you know, there weren't many black players.

"I'll always remember I was telling the story about, the only black face we ever saw on television was Clive Best who played for West Ham.

"And that's the only time we ever and they weren't on that often because they wanted a popular team to be on the television.

"But I always remember I want to be like him, but you listen to Cloughie's stories.

"He never told me any of that when I was playing. You could do this and you could do that and I could do the other."

Viv Anderson with the European Cup Credit: ITV Sport

Hundreds of footballers have won European Cups, League Championships, but Anderson will always be the first black player to play for England.

Anderson said: "I always remember Norman Whiteside. Norman Whiteside is still to this day the youngest player to ever play in the World Cup.

"But he said there's one thing you've got that I haven't got. I said what is that? Yours will never be beaten, mine will be one day.

"So yes, you look at it like that. I don't think of it like that. But it is a fact.

"(I feel) very proud. My mum and dad sadly not with us. They were very proud. So yeah, I'm very proud."

As well as playing for the national team and the Reds, Anderson also played for Arsenal and Manchester United.

He remembers time when his skin colour became a bit of factor.

He said: "There's always times in your career where I remember going to Newcastle and playing in Newcastle for Nottingham Forest.

"And I go out on the pitch before the game and look at the pitch like you do see what studs you're going to wear and the abuse I got that night, that afternoon was pretty bad.

Viv Anderson was the first black player to play for England Credit: MACE / ATV Today

"And I remember going back into the dressing room and saying to Brian Clough at the time, I don't think I can play tonight boss.

"And he pulled me to one side and said you're playing, I'm not bothered what you think, you are playing. So I had to get through it."

Anderson always believed that in years to come this wouldn't still be an issue but it is something that is still talked about today.

The FA said they are "fully committed to ensuring that English football is truly reflective of our modern and diverse society".

Anderson said: "I became a manager 20-odd years ago and there's a lad called Keith Alexander who's from the Nottingham area who was the Lincoln manager.

"And they said 'oh this is the start of a new generation of managers'.

"Well look at now, 2023 we've still only got two black managers in the league or roughly, I think it's three, but nothing has changed.

"So they're putting all these things in place, but still nothing changes.

"And I think whether it's the Rooney rule or whether it be something has got to change, because we're a multiracial country.

"People look up to the likes of Saka. You know, you've got Rashford turning Governments, changing their policy.

"That's how powerful they are. Going back when I played, if I spoke up or anything like that, I wouldn't be playing football.

Viv Anderson in action Credit: ITV Sport

"We wouldn't be having this conversation because the club or whoever may be would have said we don't want that lad, he's trouble so get him out.

"So this is how it's all changed they've got power, and they've got to use it in the right way I think, it's really important."

In a statement the FA said: "We are fully committed to ensuring that English football is truly reflective of our modern and diverse society.

"We do this across a number of our initiatives, including the ground-breaking Football Leadership Diversity Code, which was launched in 2020.

"This is fundamental to our core beliefs, and we are focused on delivering diverse and meaningful change in football."