It was forty years ago today when Nottingham Forest defied the odds and won their second European Cup. They beat Hamburg SV 1-0 in the final in Madrid.
Forty Years Since Nottingham Forest Retained the European Cup
Forest were managed by the legendary Brian Clough, who had Peter Taylor as his assistant. Within the space of four years, the pair had taken the club, from Second Division strugglers to the pinnacle of European football.
It was a difficult road to the final for the reds. They overcame Dynamo Berlin in the last eight, which was followed by a 2-1 aggregate victory against Ajax in the last four.
But this was arguably their biggest test of them all. Hamburg went into the final on the back of a 5-1 second-leg victory over Real Madrid.
Hamburg had a side which included Liverpool great, Kevin Keegan, ex-Fulham boss, Felix Magath, and centre-back Manny Kaltz. Many saw them as the favourites in the final.
Forest went into the match without winger Trevor Francis, who scored their winner, in the 79′ final against Malmo.
But the holders still had a strong squad, which included England’s Peter Shilton, with a central defensive partnership of Kenny Burns and Larry Lloyd. Garry Birtles was upfront, with Martin O’Neill and John Robertson occupying the flanks.
Hamburg had the first great opportunity through Magath’s free-kick, But Shilton punched it away to safety.
The night before, Clough had described John Robertson as “a little fat guy, who would turn Kaltz inside out”.
It seemed Clough’s confidence in his winger prevailed. On twenty minutes, Robertson glided past Kaltz and played a one-two with Birtles. Though the centre-forward slipped, he managed to get the ball back to the winger, who beat Keegan to the ball.
From twenty yards, Robertson took a chance, which paid off. It found the bottom corner and gave Nottingham Forest the lead. Near the whole team surrounded the Scot in celebration.
Shilton’s Heroics Keeps Forest Infront
Hamburg continued to go on the front foot after going behind. They almost equalised before half time when Keegan chested the ball to Caspar Memering, who hit it on the volley. But once again Shilton kept him out.
In the second forty-five, a clearance from Larry Lloyd fell to the centre-back Kaltz. His powerful shot beat Shilton, but not the woodwork, once again Hamburg were denied.
But then Shilton showed why he was one of the best keepers in the world. This time producing a world-class save from Peter Nogly’s thirty-yard drive.
Shilton’s outstanding performance at Coventry two years before, helped Forest clinch the League Championship. Now his heroics between the sticks looked to have helped Forest clinch their second consecutive European Cup.
Hamburg continued to press forward, but the East Midlands side’s defending look to have kept them at bay.
When the full-time whistle went, there was Euphoria in the Forest end of the Santiago Bernabeu, as the ‘Miracle men” retained their European crown.
“We done it against Hamburg, when we weren’t favourites. I haven’t been involved in a match like that for a long time.” – Brian Clough
John McGovern once again lifted the European Cup in front of the travelling Forest contingent.
Nottingham Forest remain the last English club to have retained the European Cup and are the only English side to win the competition more times than the league.
Arguably in what was the greatest era in the club’s history, this will go down as one of the greatest nights in the club’s history.