HIGH PRAISE FROM HODGE

 

Former Forest star Steve Hodge has delivered a fine tribute to the Great Man. Hodgie was applauded for his comments as he appeared at a Forest Legends evening at the City Ground (2001).

Hodge said he had joined Forest as a fifteen year old, despite the attention of other clubs, purely because of the character of Clough and his desire to give youngsters a chance.

"As a young, up-and-coming footballer, I believed he would take me where I wanted to go," Hodge told the audience.

As an apprentice, he looked on in awe as Forest went on to win the European Cup twice.

"It staggers me," he said as he compared Clough's record with that of Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I read in the press about Fergie and there is no doubt he is a fantastic manager and has a great team. But as an eight-year-old I witnessed a struggling Forest team going nowhere.  

"It then went on to win the European Cup and retain it, which I don't think will ever be achieved again in this country. I don't think the club has ever got the acclaim which that achievement deserves."

Hodge said Clough was the perfect man-manager, knowing how to get the best out of individuals. He admitted they had their "ups and downs" and that at times Clough would make his "blood boil."

"He knew my character and how to wind me up. In his own unique way, he knew how to get the best out of players. In that respect, he was a fantastic manager."

Things came to a head in the 1991 FA Cup Final when Hodge was left on the bench, despite feeling he was more in-form than Roy Keane, who was included in the starting eleven.

Although Hodge was grateful to be a substitute and played for part of the game, Clough's decision still rankles with him. He feels he was fitter than Keane at the time, although the Irishman has since shown he is a top class player.

"He would pick the team which he felt was the best for that match. He would leave you out on a whim and then again he would bring you in from the cold and make you feel a-hundred feet tall.

"When we played Manchester United he once told me I could run Bryan Robson off the pitch all day. We won two-nil."

Hodge described Clough as a great showman who had made the game more colourful. He said the Master Manager should have received a knighthood ten to fifteen years ago.

"The words genius and great are used far too often in football. There are few great, great managers, but he was one of the best and he should definitely be a Sir."