In front of 80,019 spectators at London’s Wembley, Huddersfield defender Levi Colwell scored the crucial own goal in the 43rd minute, which secured Nottingham’s third promotion ticket after second-tier champions FC Fulham and Bournemouth. According to financial experts, the jump to English first division is worth at least 170 million pounds (200 million euros) thanks to sponsorship and TV money.
The season had started with nothing but a glorious one for Forrest. After seven matches with six defeats and only one draw, the club was at the bottom of the table. Only with coach Steve Cooper, who replaced Chris Hughton in September of the previous year, success has returned to Nottingham. “He came and gave us this hope, he gave us this faith,” said Captain Joe Worrall. “He just raised us so sweetly and fans absolutely adore him.”
3rd grade crash
In any case, the fans’ longing for the successes of the past days is great. Nottingham shook European football 40 years ago under legendary coach Brian Clough, winning the European Champions Cup in 1979 and 1980, a prelude to the Champions League. The bitter transition to the second degree 23 years ago then lasted longer than expected and began a long dry period. In 2004, as the first European Cup winners, they fell to the third division, only in 2008 Forrest managed to return to the second division.
Despite numerous attempts, the course of the Premier League was not decided until 2017 with the acquisition of the club by Greek shipowner Evangelos Marinakis, who also owns Olympiacos Piraeus. When former American player Dane Murphy was appointed managing director last year and the squad was successfully downsized and rejuvenated, the path to the Premier League was set after initial difficulties early in the season.
Glorious times by winning the European Cup twice
The return of the Tough Trees or Garibaldi Reds, as the club is also known, makes football nostalgia particularly remembered. In the 1970s, when the big clubs were initially battling for titles in the European Cup, an English climber of all-people set out to break dominance. After Feyenoord Rotterdam, Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich and Liverpool, Nottingham Forest debuted without big stars. The most famous player was goalkeeper Peter Shilton, who participated in 125 international matches.
First, the club left the “Reds” behind as a promotion team from the second division and expelled the defending champions the following season in the first round of the European Champions Cup. A string of successes followed, culminating in a 1-0 victory over Malmö FF in the final thanks to a goal from Trevor Francis. As the defending champion, Forrest was allowed to compete again next year, this time winning 1-0 in the final against Hamburg SV. Top scorer was John Robertson (20). Nottingham Forest is the only club to have won the European Champions Cup more times than the domestic championship.
Crash and comeback at long last
The club, which also won the FA Cup twice (1898, 1959), was late in its prime. In the European Champions Cup the following year, they were eliminated in the first round against Bulgarian champions CSKA Sofia, in the tournament it was only enough to take seventh place in the table. Although there were some respectable successes after that, such as reaching the 1983/84 UEFA Cup semi-finals, the European crown has been elusive ever since. In 1993 they were relegated to the First Division. There was a back and forth between League One and League Two until the long wait began in 1999, which ended on Sunday, at least for the time being.
The joy and relief of returning at the gala of the greats was great in return. On Monday, thousands of fans of Worrall and Co enthusiastically welcomed Nottingham and turned the plaza in front of City Hall into a sea of red and white. “I am very proud of the players, the support team and the fans,” the 25-year-old said. “We have played really well, not only this season but before that as well. I have seen so many good people come and go, and they all contributed. It is a great honor to be the captain.”