Brian Clough

Before he became Old Big 'Ead

Player Biography
Full name: Brian Howard Clough
Date of birth: March 21, 1935
Date of death: September 20, 2004
Clubs played for: Middlesbrough, Sunderland
Clubs managed: Hartlepool, Derby, Brighton, Leeds, Nottingham Forest
Brian Clough
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Brian Clough Brian Clough England Football Team 1959 Brian Clough in action for Sunderland Brian Clough Brian Clough Brian Clough Brian Clough Eddie Waring Brian Clough Brian Clough Brian Clough Sir Alf Ramsey and Brian Clough 1974 Charity Shield Charity Shield 1974 Charity Shield 1974 Charity Shield Charity Shield 1974 Charity Shield 1974 1974 Charity Shield Nottingham Forest 1-2 Fulham, February 10, FA Cup 4th Round 3rd replay, 1975 Brian Clough Brian Clough Brian Clough Brian Clough and Bobby Robson Nottingham Forest 1-0 Malmo, European Cup final, May 30, 1979 Brian Clough Brian Clough and Peter Shilton, 1980 Brian Clough Brian Clough 1991 FA Cup Final Brian-Clough-Forest-cropped Brian Clough
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Club Career

After a managerial career full of clashes, controversy and cups, it's easy to forget that Brian Clough was also one of the most prolific goalscorers ever to grace the Football League.

Born in Middlesbrough, he started out at non-league Billingham Synthonia, before spending two years in the RAF on National Service. In 1955, he joined his home-town club and set about scoring a lot of goals very quickly. In 213 League games for Boro, he found the net 197 times - practically a goal a game.

In 1961, he moved to Sunderland in a £45,000 deal. At Roker Park, he kept up his amazing strike-rate, netting 54 goals in 61 games before a crippling ligament injury on Boxing Day 1962 ended his playing days, and started an even more remarkable story.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1955-61 Middlesbrough 213 197
1961-64 Sunderland 61 54

International Career

Despite regular calls for his selection, Clough made just two appearances for England, against Wales and Sweden, but on both occasions he failed to replicate his club form. With Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves banging them in, he never got another chance to prove himself on the international stage.

International Career Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1959 England 2 0

Managerial Career

Few football managers have had a critically-acclaimed film made about them. But then, few football managers have ever been quite like Brian Clough.

His managerial career began with him driving the team bus at Hartlepool. It peaked with him taking a small unfashionable club to the European Cup final twice and although it ended in tears and relegation, he is still revered as possibly the finest, and definitely the most individual manager this country has ever produced.

In tandem with Peter Taylor, his right-hand man until an acrimonious split that was never reconciled, he turned around impoverished Hartlepool and earned the attention of Derby. In six eventful years at the Baseball Ground, he turned them from Second Division makeweights to Champions of England. But, embroiled in a foolish game of bluff with his chairman and nemesis Sam Longson, he walked out.

An improbable spell at Third Division Brighton, and a much-chronicled 44-day stop at Leeds followed, before he arrived at Nottingham Forest in 1975. For the second time, he took a provincial East Midlands club from Division Two to the title, building a supreme team out of non-league nobodies like Garry Birtles, washed-up journeymen like Kenny Burns, and English football's first million-pound man in Trevor Francis.

The next chapter of the fairytale saw Forest lift the European Cup in 1979, and they did it again in 1980. The 1980s and early 1990s weren't quite as kind to Clough as the 1970s, but he still won a couple of League Cups, took a rebuilt Forest to the last four of the UEFA Cup, and schooled a new generation of footballers in the right way to play football, from Teddy Sheringham and Roy Keane to his own son Nigel.

He stood down in 1993, after Forest had been relegated from the Premier League, but by then, he had nothing left to prove, even though he never got the England job he craved and so richly deserved. But in September 2004, the ravages of stomach cancer meant English football had lost its most idiosyncratic voice.

Key Games

Middlesbrough 3-0 Charlton (First Division, September 19, 1959)

Brian Clough was in scintillating form at Ayresome Park, scoring a hat-trick to defeat the south Londoners. If it hadn't been for some inspired saves from Charlton keeper Willie Duff, Boro's centre-forward might have scored even more. His strike partner Bill Harris put him through for the first, and Clough soon added two more to claim the match ball.

Irish League 0 Football League 5 (Friendly, September 24, 1959)

Just five days after single-handedly crushing Charlton, Clough was at it again, this time for a Football League XI against their Irish counterparts. He fired the Football League in front just before half-time, but saved his best form for the second half, scoring four times in the space of 15 minutes. The last was the best of the lot - a superb shot from a tight angle past Irish goalkeeper Roy Rea.

Sunderland 0 Bury 1 (Second Division, December 26, 1962)

Boxing Day 1962 proved a dark day for Clough, as he suffered the injury that all but ended his playing career. He intercepted the ball in the Bury penalty box and attempted to beat the onrushing keeper Chris Harker. In the collision that followed, Clough tore his cruciate ligaments. The Sunderland centre-forward made a recovery of sorts, making three more first-team appearances, before reluctantly hanging up his boots at the age of 29.


Club Competition Year
Derby (as manager) League Championship 1971-72
Second Division Championship 1968-69
Nottingham Forest (as manager) League Championship 1977-78
European Cup 1979, 1980
European Super Cup 1980
League Cup 1978, 1979, 1989, 1990

Did You Know...?

In 1946, the naturally bright Clough failed his 11-plus exam, having neglected his studies in favour of sport.

He is one of a number of former Middlesbrough footballers to have played for Billingham Synthonia - others include Bernie Slaven, Terry Cochrane and Craig Hignett.

Clough was awarded the OBE in 1991 for his services to football.

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From the back pages

Middlesbrough 3-0 Charlton Published: September 21, 1959

Second Division match report

Irish League 0-5 Football League Published: September 24, 1959

Friendly match report

Sunderland 0-1 Bury Published: December 27, 1962

Second Division match report

Golden Boot Published: May 14, 1963

Second Division news story

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