'The stories come as fast as a classic Francis sprint'
Brian Clough’s £1M player has lots of great memories of the
Top Boss and says there’s no doubt he was the Number One.
Trevor Francis played for a number of leading managers,
including Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson, but in this fascinating autobiography
the star striker makes it clear Clough was the best.
And the players knew it - even when Cloughie was on holiday
in Spain, and left Peter Taylor in charge. Francis recalls that this was
emphasised in a League Cup fourth round tie at Watford in 1980.
“As players we were aware that the Boss had gone away,” says
Francis. “What we were not so sure about was whether he would be in the
dressing room when we arrived at Vicarage Road.
“When Peter announced the team and confirmed that Brian was
not there, you could visibly see the players relax and lose a little bit of
focus. There was an intensity when the Boss was there, which was never quite
the case when Peter was in charge.”
The result was a sub-standard performance and a 4-1 defeat and
exit from a competition in which they had reached the final the previous
Francis rejects suggestions that Clough ruled by fear – “that
was far from the case,” he says. “We feared letting him down but we never went
on to the pitch feeling fear. We could never have played attractive football if
we had had fear in our bodies.”
In fact, he recalls Clough insisted on relaxation –
including one or two glasses of wine on the eve of the European Cup Final, in
which Francis scored the crucial winning goal.
Clough’s unpredictability is also remembered in the book.
The day before the Super Cup Final against Valencia, Francis was recovering
from injury when Brian asked him to play tennis in the afternoon heat. They
ended-up playing three sets after Francis won the first. He was even more
surprised to then start the final.
When Forest were in Amsterdam to defend a 2-0 first leg advantage
against Ajax in the European Cup semi-final in 1980, a group of Dutch fans were
taunting the Reds players as they took a walk near the hotel.
“Clough got a lighter, probably from John Robertson, ran
over to them, grabbed their flag and set fire to it. Amazing.”
‘One In A Million’ has lots of entertaining anecdotes, especially
from Francis’ managerial career. The great stories come as fast as a typical