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The legend of Nottingham Forest and Brian Clough: from Second Division to the Champions League

A Story by Gabriele Ferraresi / LUZ
The story of Nottingham Forest F.C. at the end of the 1970s and its coach Brian Clough is so full of extraordinary details that it's hard to choose where to start.

From the most absurd one, perhaps.

From a football team that has won more Champions Leagues (2) than national championships (1) – the only one in the history of football. Or from the fact that it managed to pass from the Second to the First Division and to win the Premier League in one shot, not stopping there, but raising to the sky the most important continental trophy twice in a row.

Or from the personal history of Brian Clough, a gigantic coach, a great innovator, a smirker, an unbearable, a winner like few others - a British Mourinho, thirty years before the Portuguese original – as narrated by David Peace’s beautiful book, The Damned United, followed by a so-so movie with the same title. Brian Clough, to whom the city of Nottingham has dedicated a statue.

I would not say I was the best coach in the business. But I was in the top 1. Brian Clough

However, let's start from the beginning. The year is 1977: Nottingham has just been promoted to the First Division, after five purgatory championships in the cadet division. Brian Clough is on the bench. He sat there on 6 May 1975; he will leave on May 8 1993, 907 games later: coaches the likes of him are no more.
Standing in the centre, on of modern day football's geniuses, Brian Clough
First Division 77/78 is a four-way race between Nottingham Forest, Everton, Liverpool and Manchester City. Surprisingly, with the passing of the days, Nottingham stretches over all its rivals and closes the championship with 64 points, 7 points ahead of Liverpool.

The strength of Nottingham and Clough? The best defence of the championship.

Only 24 goals conceded in 42 days - and a good but not extraordinary attack, with 69 goals. However, it had the best goal difference of the whole First Division, at +45.

An unexpected first place in the championship thus opened the doors of the 1978/1979 Champions League to the boys of Clough, who over time had managed to set up a working and sturdy team. Eleven people without any international experience, but ready to fight in a continental tournament very different from what we know today.

Goal, towards the next victory
In fact, there was only one team per nation and the tournament started immediately with the knockouts, from the Fourth Round to the final; and for Nottingham, we start uphill: the qualification match against the outgoing champion, Liverpool. Nottingham won handily: 2-0 in the first round, 0-0 in the second round. From there, the Champions League.

Fourth Round: against AEK Athens, eliminated. Quarterfinal: against the Swiss Grasshoppers, eliminated. Semifinal: the Forest of Brian Clough still passes against Cologne. Then the final: in Munich against Malmö, on 30 May 1979. At the end of the 90th minute, it’s 1-0 for Clough's men, who stamped the ticket to enter the legend: newly promoted, Premier League at first shot, Champions' Cup at first shot.

Which, just to stay safe, they also won the following year.

Modern football training

At the time of Nottingham Forest's great victory in 1978, players were trained exclusively on the football field, on alternate days and without a specific physical objective. Tactics were prepared, techniques improved, strategies developed to defeat the opponent of the next game. Physical preparation was a by-product of field training.

Since the end of the 70s, football has changed dramatically. Teams of athletic trainers, nutritionists, physiotherapists and doctors now closely follow professional footballers. Although part of the poetry of past football has been lost, the spectacularization of the sport has made such transformation necessary.

Today, the workout regimen of a football star is the result of a careful analysis, which maximizes his sports performance depending on the role played, personal biometrics and game tactics implemented.

For this reason, training has gradually shifted to the gyms of the clubs, which now house cutting-edge fitness equipment, capable of generating data useful for the analysis of athletic and sporting performance, while maintaining extreme accessibility and ease of use even for the most demanding footballer.

3 indoor exercises for football oriented workouts

It has been statistically proven that the technique and inventiveness of the individual player are not the only important factors to make him stand out. In modern football, the difference between a Third and a First Division player also passes through his own muscle strength, measured in terms of explosive power (i.e. strength and speed) and endurance.
Brazil's national team chooses Technogym for its indoor workout
In this section, we will describe three of the unmissable indoor training exercises that each player should do:

Seated Row

There are multiple ways to perform this kind of exercise. For the sake of simplicity, we will use as reference the seated rows on the seated rowing machine, which is the simplest to use correctly for users of any level.

  1. Sit down on the seated rowing machine and place your feet on the platform to keep yourself in place during your set. Reach for the handles with palms facing towards each other, while maintaining an upright torso.
  2. Pull the handles back until your legs and torso form a 90-degree angle. Maintain a slight backward lean and keep pushing your chest onto the machine, before squeezing your shoulder blades and contracting to pull the handles toward your torso.
  3. Squeeze for 1 second once you’ve reached your abdominals. Maintaining your posture, slowly extend your arms, returning the cables to the starting position. Depending on your objective, you can either choose to increase the number of repetition per set, increase the number of sets or the load in each repetition.
How to perform a close-grip seated row

Leg Press

The leg press is fundamental to develop the quadriceps and hamstrings of the thigh as well as the gluteus. While this equipment may seem easy to use, in order to maximise the effectiveness of each workout session it is important to learn how to use it properly.

  1. Sit on the machine with your back and head resting comfortably against the padded support. Place your feet on the footplate about hip-width apart, while ensuring that your heels are flat. Your legs should form an angle of about 90 degrees at the knees. If your feet are too high on the plate, it will stress your glutes; too low and it puts unnecessary pressure on your knees. Grasp then the assist handles: these provide support during the movement and help keep your spine and head in position.
  2. Brace your abdominal muscles and push the platform away with your heels and forefoot. Your heels should remain flat on the footplate. While exhaling, extend your legs and keep your head and back flat against the seat pad. Extend with slow control rather than with an explosive movement.
  3. Pause at the top of the movement. Do not lock out your knees and ensure that they are not bowed. While inhaling, return the footplate to the starting position by gradually bending the knees. Keep the feet and back flat throughout.
How to perform a horizontal leg press

Training programs on treadmills

Finally, the most important part in a footballer's training routine is the improvement of physical endurance. However, rather than setting a speed on the treadmill and starting to run, a series of specific training sessions, aimed at improving strength, speed or agility as well as endurance, would be much more effective to the sports performance of the individual footballer.
Usually, in order to carry out such a training routine, it would be necessary to have at one's disposal a lot of equipment and to interrupt one's session time and time again. Technogym's SKILLRUN, on the other hand, offers the possibility of moving from one training mode to another in a fluid and rapid manner, containing numerous customizable training possibilities based on both individual sports needs and on biometric data.

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