Three sculptors have made it into the shortlist to create the statue of Cloughie in Nottingham city centre. The exclusive photo, above, shows Mrs Clough and her son Simon (left) looking through all the submissions with statue fund committee members. Their views were taken into consideration by the city council, who are commissioning the statue.

Officials have also said there is now a preferred location for the statue in the city centre - where King Street meets Queen Street, close to the Old Market Square.

Eighteen submissions were received from artists. The shortlisted sculptors are Les Johnson, who is based in Hampshire; Keith Maddison from Northumberland and John McKenna from Ayrshire in Scotland.

They will each be asked to make a miniature version of a statue of Brian Clough, called a maquette. These miniatures will then be put on display at Nottingham Council House, for the public to see and give their views, before a selection panel decides which artist should be commissioned to make the full bronze statue.

One of the initial submissions is pictured below in the form of a bust - but the sculpture which stands in Nottingham city centre will be a full statue.

One of the initial submissions

The chairman of the statue fund, Paul Ellis, said the three artists would be asked to make a miniature of Cloughie dressed in his famous green sweatshirt and tracksuit bottoms. "This is a big step forward for the statue plans," said Paul. "It is vital we have the right statue by the right sculptor so that generations to come can be proud of it.

"We have been consulting closely with Mr Clough’s family and their views have been crucial in this selection process and of course will continue to be so. We have discussed with them possible poses for the statue. But obviously the artists will need to come-up with their own interpretations of the poses too."

One of the favoured poses would see the Master Manager with his arms aloft, possibly in a victorious gesture to fans - such as the one he gave to supporters as he left Wembley Stadium following one of Nottingham Forest's many cup successes. That pose can be seen at the end of the video 'The Brian Clough Story' and was recreated by actor Colin Tarrant during the play 'Old Big 'Ead in the Spirit of the Man' at Nottingham Playhouse (below).

Tarrant in famous pose

The shortlisted artists have been describing their delight at making it through to the next stage of the selection process. All three spoke exclusively to this website - the official site of the statue fund.

Les Johnson said it would be a privilege if he was awarded the commission. "Brian Clough's achievements are legendary," he said. "He had a unique personality, he was very down to earth and was very much his own man. I would aim to show his unique personality in the sculpture."

John McKenna said he was delighted to reach the next stage. "Just to be shortlisted means a great deal," he said. "I admired Brian Clough for the way he spoke his mind. Whenever he was on television, it was something to look-out for. He was very entertaining."

Keith Maddison said he would be extremely honoured to be selected to make the final statue. "It's like reaching the FA Cup Final - but there is still a lot of work to do. That's not just physical work, but a lot of emotion goes into too. I know what it means to people in the area." He said he had been a big admirer of Mr Clough for many years. "My Dad watched him play for Sunderland and I was a Forest fan in my youth and followed his career."

Commenting on the news that a shortlist had been agreed, the city council leader, Jon Collins, said he was extremely pleased.

“I have given my personal backing to the statue project from the beginning and I am absolutely delighted we now have three sculptors in the shortlist," said Councillor Collins. "There were some high quality submissions and it was always going to be a difficult task to make a shortlist of just three. I am confident that we will see a fitting statue for a remarkable man who put the city and county on the map."

The statue fund raised £69,000 in eighteen months, smashing through its £60,000 target. Money was raised in various ways, including events, donations, the sale of tribute badges and green sweaters, plus a Gala Dinner held in the Council House, at which members of the Clough family were special guests.

The City Council and Nottingham Forest each donated £5,000 to the fund. Forest’s Chief Executive Mark Arthur welcomed the news that a shortlist had been compiled. “This is great news and obviously an important development in the whole statue process," he said.

"We have supported the statue fund's efforts all along and everyone at the club looks forward to the day when Nottingham sees a statue in tribute to Brian Clough and his achievements.”

Here's some more information about the shortlisted sculptors:

Les Johnson was born in 1949. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and has received various public and corporate sculpture commissions. Les trained at Sydney Central Art College (Australia) and the Sir John Cass School of Art and Design in London. He has lived in the UK since 1973. 

Keith Maddison was born in 1951. His work has included a statue of Middlesbrough hero George Hardwick outside the Riverside Stadium. Keith studied on a degree course at college and has worked as a sculptor since 1986, after previously being a school-teacher. He is a Member of the Guild of Aviation Artists.  

John McKenna was born in 1964. He trained at Middlesex Art College and the Sir Henry Doulton School of Sculpture in London. He is a Member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. He now works full-time on public sculpture commissions.