The scene: the Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid.

The date: 28th May, 1980.

The event: European Cup Final, Nottingham Forest v Hamburg. 


Cloughie's Nottingham Forest were underdogs as they faced Kevin Keegan's Hamburg, even though the Reds were defending their European title. Yet they defied the critics thanks to some Clough magic. 

The preparations for the match saw Cloughie take his Nottingham Forest players away for a week's break in Majorca. It was just the tonic that the Reds needed after a long, hard season. 

"Brian Clough's ace was that you went out feeling as good as or better than the opposition," reflected captain John McGovern, on the 40th anniversary of the momentous victory. "He gave you that confidence." 

John Robertson scored the only goal of the game with a right-foot shot in the first-half, after brilliant work by Garry Birtles to hold the ball and lay it off for the winger.  Photographer John Sumpter caught the magical moment when Robertson realised he had scored and was mobbed by his team-mates.


John Sumpter's amazing photo of celebration


Clough later reflected: "That night in the stifling heat of the Spanish capital, less than a fortnight after his testimonial game against Leicester, John Robertson enjoyed the highest point of his career.

"(Peter) Taylor and I stiffened with expectation on the bench in the Bernabeu Stadium the moment Robbo received the ball on the touch-line, and set-off, jinking in and out of the Germans. It was one of those moments - it is difficult to explain why or how - when you just know something special is about to happen." 

Robertson reflected: "I was stretching but I caught it with the outside of my boot. I saw it sail towards the corner and thought, 'it's got a chance.' And then I thought, 'it's going in, it's actually going in.'"

Just two days before the game, Clough had been asked about how Forest would cope with the threat of Hamburg's attacking right-back, Manny Kaltz. Referring to Robertson, the Miracle Manager replied: "We've got a little fat guy, a very talented, highly skilled, unbelievable outside left. He'll turn him inside out."

Cloughie would often have a little dig at Robertson over his weight, but he hugely admired the winger and always backed him to succeed, giving Robbo the confidence to give his very best. 

Despite leading 1-0, Forest had to soak-up a tremendous amount of pressure, with Hamburg throwing everything at the Reds' goal. A series of brilliant saves from Peter Shilton meant Forest kept a clean sheet - and kept the European Cup. 

Shilton had needed a pain-killing injection before the match due to an injury. Afterwards, he said he had never played in another game where the opponents had put so much pressure on his goal. 

He added: "Obviously it has to go down as the highlight of my career - better than the win over Malmo the previous year, when we were expected to win easily. This time a lot of people were writing is off, but they ought to know better."

Clough said it had been a great team effort. Garry Birtles had run himself into the ground as a lone striker. Gary Mills, just 18 years of age, was brought into the starting line-up to replace the injured Trevor Francis. Left-back Frank Gray, a European Cup loser with Leeds, was a winner with Clough's Forest.  

"The side battled and covered and ran themselves out," said Clough. "This victory comes close to being one of the highlights of my career. It's a night I'll never forget."

It had been an amazing record of results for the Master Manager. Starting in December 1976, when Forest won the Anglo-Scottish Cup, the Reds had played in seven finals, winning six. "All that had been done at a club where turmoil was once a normal state of being," wrote Danny Taylor in his book 'I Believe in Miracles.' 


In typical style, Cloughie summed-up the European Cup achievement perfectly: "You win something once and people say it is all down to luck. You win it twice and it shuts the buggers up."


Sources: 'Clough - The Autobiography', 'Brian Clough Fifty Defining Fixtures' by Marcus Alton, 'I Believe in Miracles' by Danny Taylor, Nottingham Evening Post, Daily Mail, 'Forest - the 1980 Season' by John Lawson.