Brian Clough Biography

Brian Clough was an English football player and manager who played as a striker for the Middlesbrough and Sunderland football clubs of the English Football League. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life and achievements.

Quick Facts

Birthday: March 21, 1935

Nationality: British

Famous: Football Players British Men

Died At Age: 69

Sun Sign: Aries

Also Known As: Brian Howard Clough

Born Country: England

Born in: Middlesbrough, United Kingdom

Famous as: Football Player

Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Barbara Clough (m. 1959)

father: Joe Clough

mother: Sally Clough

siblings: Joe Clough

children: Elizabeth Clough, Nigel Clough, Simon Clough

Died on: September 20, 2004

place of death: Derby Royal, Derby, United Kingdom

Cause of Death: Stomach Cancer

More Facts

awards: Officer of the Order of the British Empire

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Brian Clough was an English football player and manager who played as a striker for the Middlesbrough and Sunderland football clubs of the English Football League before sustaining a career-ending injury. He scored 251 goals from 274 starts, boasting of the highest goals-per-game ratio of 0.916 among players with over 200 goals in the English leagues. As a manager, he had a long and successful partnership with Peter Taylor, his friend and assistant manager, and the two particularly took Derby County and Nottingham Forest to new heights. With Taylor, he helped Derby win Second Division Championship and First Division Championship once each, and led Forest to First Division Championship once, and twice each of League Cup and European Cup. He also won two more League Cups with Forest after Taylor's retirement, and took them to the FA Cup final once. Despite his outspoken and often controversial attitude, he is regarded as one of the greatest English football managers even though he never managed the national team.

Childhood & Early Life
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Playing Career
  • While still working at ICI, Brian Clough joined local amateur football club Billingham Synthonia, from where he was selected to his hometown club Middlesbrough at 17. He made his debut in a league match against Barnsley in September 1955.
  • A fourth-choice striker at Middlesbrough, he met his future colleague and friend, goalkeeper Peter Taylor, who helped Clough get into the first team. In the next six seasons, he scored 204 goals in 222 league matches for Boro, which included 40-plus goals in four consecutive seasons, but was dissatisfied with his team's defense as they conceded goals just as regularly.
  • He often criticized his teammates openly, even accusing them of betting against the team, and eventually moved to rival club Sunderland FC for £55,000 in July 1961, following which he scored 54 goals in 61 league games. During the 1962–63 season, after contributing 24 league goals to his side's promotion, he tore the medial and cruciate ligaments in his knee following collision with Bury goalkeeper Chris Harker on December 26, 1962.
  • While he returned to the field two years later, Clough retired from professional football in 1964 after playing only three games. He previously made two appearances for the England national football team against Wales and Sweden, both in October 1959, but did not score any goals.
Career As a Manager
  • Brian Clough started his coaching career with the Sunderland youth team and soon adopted the strict code of conduct of his former manager Alan Brown. In October 1965, 30-year-old Clough was hired to manage Hartlepools United (now Hartlepool United) as the youngest manager in the league, and enlisted his friend Peter Taylor as his assistant.
  • Taking responsibility of a Fourth Division club that was struggling on the field and had severe financial woes, he often had to raise money touring local pubs. In November 1966, he was briefly sacked after protesting the removal of his assistant Taylor by then chairman Ernest Ord, but was reinstated after Ord was ousted following a boardroom coup.
  • The duo helped the team finish eighth in the 1966–67 season and was hired to manage the Second Division club Derby County in the next season. Despite struggling in the first season, they made significant changes to the team that helped the club register a record 22 consecutive wins and become Division Two champions in 1968-69.
  • Derby finished fourth in Division One in the 1969-70 season, the best in two decades, but was banned from competing in Europe in the next season due to financial irregularities.
  • In the 1971–72 season, Derby clinched their first championship in the club's 88-year history, even though Clough repeatedly got himself into controversies for criticizing Derby management and football's establishments in general.
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  • Following a failed ouster attempt, he and Taylor resigned on October 15, 1973, and moved to the Division Three side Brighton & Hove Albion, where he won only 12 of 32 games. Within a year, he made a surprise move, this time alone, by taking charge of Leeds United, a team he had criticized many times previously for "cheating" and playing "dirty".
  • His stint with Leeds ended in just 44 days as he alienated star players by reportedly telling them that their medals "were not won fairly". He also set the unfortunate record of being the club's least successful permanent manager, winning only one of six games.
  • Joining Nottingham Forest in January 1975, he took them to eighth finish in his first full season in 1975-76, and was rejoined by Taylor as his assistant in the next season. The two implemented several changes that took the team to a dream run, starting with the 1976–77 Anglo-Scottish Cup win.
  • Nottingham Forest won the English league championship in 1977–78, followed by two consecutive European Cup wins in 1979 and 1980, and two League Cups in 1978 and 1979. The elite team was subsequently broken up to sell the players at top value, which both of them later admitted as a mistake because the rebuilt team could not match their previous success.
  • After Taylor's retirement in 1982, Clough won two more eague Cups in 1989 and 1990, and also led the team to FA Cup final in 1991. Following a few transfers that negatively impacted the team's performance, Forest relegated from the inaugural Premier League in May 1993, prompting Clough to retire.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Brian Clough married Barbara Glasgow on April 4, 1959, in Middlesbrough, and had three children with her: sons Simon and Nigel, and daughter Elizabeth. Nigel became a professional footballer and played under his father at Forest, scoring the last goal of Clough's managerial career.
  • His relationship with Taylor deteriorated over time, especially after the latter became manager of Derby six months after retiring in 1982, following which they were not even on speaking terms. In his later life, he fought corruption allegations during the 'bungs' scandal in English football, even though he always denied the charges.
  • He struggled with alcoholism throughout his career and had to undergo a 10-hour liver transplant in January 2003, but died of stomach cancer on September 20, 2004.
  • Several statues of Clough have been erected, including one with Peter Taylor at Pride Park Stadium, and he was portrayed by Michael Sheen in the controversial film 'The Damned United'.
  • Brian Clough revealed in his autobiography 'Cloughie: Walking on Water', that cricket was his first love, and that he preferred a test century at Lord's over a hat-trick at Wembley. He was a friend of cricketer Geoffrey Boycott.

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