Derby County v Nottingham Forest

Forest draw clinched Derby deal for Clough

January 23, 2009

Nigel Clough has revealed Derby County drawing Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup was the ''sign'' that convinced him to take the job at Pride Park.

When the fourth-round draw was made on January 4, then-Burton Albion boss Clough was mulling over an offer from Rams chairman of football Adam Pearson to succeed Paul Jewell as the Championship club's manager.

The weight of history must have been on the 42-year-old's mind as he contemplated the prospect of following in the footsteps of his late father Brian and taking the leap into league management for the first time after a decade with the Brewers.

Clough senior took Derby from the old Second Division to become champions of England and European Cup semi-finalists during his spell in charge between May 1967 and October 1973.

His achievements down the road at Forest were even greater. 'Old Big Head' guided the Reds to the league title in 1978 before recording back-to-back European Cup triumphs in the two years that followed.

Clough junior also played under his father for the club he supported as a boy from September 1984 to June 1993 before returning to the City Ground for a loan spell during the 1996/97 season.

With so many pointers already in place, Derby were then paired against Forest in what many regard as the greatest cup competition in the world - and Clough's mind was made up.

Ahead of Friday night's tie between the east midlands adversaries, Clough said: ''I said when I first took the job that somebody upstairs was being a bit mischievous when they pulled those balls out.

''I thought it was a bit of a sign. There was a lot of contemplation going on at the time and my wife came and said to me 'you'll never guess the FA Cup draw'.

''I just treated it as a further sign that taking the Derby job was the right thing for me to do.

''I've got fond memories of both clubs and they will never go away. I have lived very close to Derby all my life and they are like my hometown club.

''After supporting Forest for nine or 10 years and then playing for them for same period of time, I also have strong feelings for them too.''

The tie will also be an emotional one for Forest manager Billy Davies, who is set to make his first return to the club that he took into the Premier League since his departure 14 months ago.

Davies, Rams boss between June 2006 and November 2007, revealed he gave a ringing endorsement of Clough to the Derby directors prior to his appointment.

''I have nothing but respect for Nigel, he is a true gentleman and a very good football manager,'' said the Scot.

''I spoke to the directors at Derby and I told them that this was a great guy and a fantastic man to have at your football club. He is a great appointment and I am sure he will bring great success to what is a great football club.

''He is a great lad and he was very supportive of me when I was at Derby. We spoke many times when he was Burton manager and I have nothing but respect and nice things to say about the man.''