Nigel Clough

Nigel Howard Clough (born 19 March 1966) is an English professional football manager and former player who was most recently the manager of League One club Burton Albion. Playing predominantly as a forward, but later in his career used as a midfielder, Clough was capped by England 14 times in the early 1990s.

Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough.jpg
Clough managing Derby County in 2009
Personal information
Full name Nigel Howard Clough[1]
Date of birth (1966-03-19) 19 March 1966 (age 54)[2]
Place of birth Sunderland, England
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[3]
Playing position(s) Forward, midfielder
Youth career
1982–1984 Nottingham Forest
1983–1984Heanor Town (loan)
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1993 Nottingham Forest 311 (101)
1993–1996 Liverpool 39 (7)
1996–1998 Manchester City 39 (4)
1996–1997Nottingham Forest (loan) 13 (1)
1997Sheffield Wednesday (loan) 1 (0)
1998–2008 Burton Albion 227 (16)
Total 630 (131)
National team
1986–1988 England U21 15 (3)
1990–1991 England B 3 (1)
1989–1993 England 14 (0)
Teams managed
1998–2009 Burton Albion
2009–2013 Derby County
2013–2015 Sheffield United
2015–2020 Burton Albion
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Born in Sunderland and raised in Allestree, Derby,[4][5] Clough is most notable for his time as a player at Nottingham Forest, where he played over 400 times in league, cup and European matches in two separate spells, mostly under the managership of his father Brian Clough, and scored 131 goals throughout his career making him the second highest scorer in the club's history.

He subsequently had spells with Liverpool, Manchester City and Sheffield Wednesday before moving into non-league football at the age of 32 when he became player manager with Southern Football League Premier Division side Burton Albion in 1998. Over the next decade, during half of which he continued to play a regular role on the field, Clough took Burton up from the seventh tier of the English football league system to the brink of promotion to League Two. He left halfway through the 2008–09 season to follow in his father's footsteps and take over at Derby County, where he served for four years until his dismissal in September 2013. He was appointed as manager of Sheffield United in October 2013, pulling them out of the relegation zone and taking them to FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals. He was later dismissed from the role in May 2015.

Clough returned to Burton Albion for a second spell as manager in December 2015, leading them to promotion to the Championship for the first time in the club's history in May 2016 and the League Cup semi-final in January 2019. Clough stepped down as Burton manager four years later in May 2020 due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the club.[6]

Playing careerEdit

Club careerEdit

Clough joined Nottingham Forest as an apprentice on leaving school in 1982 but left after two seasons to sign for non-league Heanor Town, but was back at the City Ground on a professional contract in December 1984. He became a regular player in the 1985–86 season, being Forest's top scorer with 15 goals in the First Division to help them finish eighth in the league, a position they repeated the following season when he found the net 14 times in the First Division.[citation needed]

In April 1988, he was the subject of a £1.5 million bid from Italian side Pisa, but the bid was turned down and Clough remained at Forest, who finished third that season and the season after. He remained among Forest's top goalscorers for a further five seasons, helping them win the League Cup in 1989 and 1990 and the Full Members' Cup in 1989. They were also FA Cup semi-finalists in 1988 and 1989 and runners-up in 1991. Clough also contributed to Forest winning the last-ever Full Members Cup in 1992. They also reached another League Cup final that season, but lost to Manchester United. Clough was Forest's top scorer in 1992–93 with ten goals in the new Premier League, but Forest were relegated, following which his father Brian retired after 18 years as manager. Towards the end of the season, he was used as a centre-back on several occasions.[citation needed]

Clough was widely expected to leave Forest in order to continue playing Premier League football, and was sold to Liverpool that summer for £2.75million. At the time, he was one of the most expensive players ever to be signed by Liverpool, who had finished a disappointing sixth in the new Premier League having been the dominant English club side of the last 20 years of the old First Division.[7]

Clough scored twice on his debut for Liverpool against Sheffield Wednesday on 14 August 1993.[8] He had found the net four times for the Reds by the end of August 1993, but by Christmas had found himself struggling for a first team place after the emergence of 18-year-old Robbie Fowler alongside Ian Rush in the Liverpool attack. Liverpool were also enduring another disappointing season in the league, which led to the resignation of Graeme Souness as manager at the end of January 1994 and the appointment of coach Roy Evans as his successor.

Clough did manage to find the net three more times that season, his final two goals coming on 4 January 1994 when he scored twice against Manchester United at Anfield, when Liverpool came from three goals down to draw 3–3. However, the continuing effectiveness of Fowler and Rush in attack meant that Clough made only a handful of appearances for the Reds in 1994–95, and was not in their League Cup winning side. He finally left Anfield in January 1996.

He signed for Premier League relegation battlers Manchester City for £1.5million.[9] Clough played in all of Manchester City's remaining 15 league appearances after his arrival at Maine Road, scoring twice, but could not stave off relegation and shortly afterwards he lost his place in the team due to injury.

He returned to Nottingham Forest on loan in December 1996, when Stuart Pearce became manager on an interim basis after the departure of Frank Clark.[10] He scored once against Leicester City[11] in 13 league games before returning to Manchester City. He did not play for the club again.

He made another Premier League comeback in the 1997–98 season when he was loaned to struggling Sheffield Wednesday. His only league game for the South Yorkshire club was a 5–2 home defeat by Derby County (he also played in a League Cup tie against Grimsby Town).[12] When City were relegated to Division Two at the end of the 1997–98 season, Clough was given a free transfer and his senior football career was over at the age of 32.[13]

International careerEdit

After playing 15 times for the England under-21 side from 1986 to 1988, scoring three goals, Clough finally made his senior international debut on 23 May 1989 against Chile at the age of 23. He made the final full international appearance of his career on 19 June 1993 against Germany. By this time, he had been capped 14 times by England at senior level, but failed to score.[14]

Managerial careerEdit

Burton AlbionEdit

In October 1998, he moved into management when he accepted the role of player-manager at Burton Albion in the Southern Football League Premier Division.[citation needed]

Having passed his 32nd birthday, Clough was still registered as a player which possibly explained his apparent lack of ambition to move into League management (his father bitterly lamented the premature curtailment of his own playing career). However, Clough had not played regularly for Burton since the early stages of the 2005–06 season, though he did play in the team's 6–3 win over Sutton Coldfield Town in the Birmingham Senior Cup on 27 October 2008.[15] His final senior appearance for Burton came in the league against Droylsden on 12 February 2008,[16] his only appearance of the season.[17]

In January 2006, Burton, then in the Conference, held Manchester United to a 0–0 draw in the third round of the FA Cup. The United team featured Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Louis Saha, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney introduced as second-half substitutes.[18] Burton midfielder Chris Hall said: "After the match, the press were buzzing... but we had a local cup game, against Stourbridge, I think, and the gaffer only wanted to focus on that.... With his playing career, he was used to the publicity... It was brilliant and it was quite a breath of fresh air, but at the same time, the gaffer kept us grounded".[19] In the replay at Old Trafford, Burton were beaten 5–0, but earned a reported £600,000 in the process.[20]

Clough won the Conference Premier Manager of the Month for December 2008, after completing 11 straight wins in the division and guiding Burton to 13 points clear at the top of the table.[21]

Derby CountyEdit

On 5 January 2009 he was officially approached by Derby County, one of the clubs his father had previously managed, to take over as their manager as a replacement for Paul Jewell.[22] He was appointed the next day,[23] prior to his taking charge, on 8 January,[24] Academy Head Coach David Lowe guided Derby to a victory over Manchester United 1–0 in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.[25] Clough's first victory in charge of The Rams came on 31 January 2009, when Derby beat Coventry City 2–1. Results improved after Clough's arrival, with a run of four consecutive wins. However, a series of injuries to key players saw a loss of form for the Rams. Safety in the Championship was not confirmed until the penultimate game of the season against Charlton Athletic, with a 1–0 victory.[citation needed]

Clough's first full season in charge of Derby saw significant changes to the playing staff as he brought in nine players and moved on fourteen as well as making substantial dealings in the loan market. Despite this, the Rams again struggled with injuries, at one point being without thirteen first team players. When key players returned from injury, Clough was able to start picking a regular team, and results began to improve. Derby finished two points and four places better off than the previous campaign.[26]

Clough was involved in several altercations during the season. He was accused by counterpart Billy Davies of kicking him in the knee in a pitch side altercation during Derby's 1–0 victory over local rivals Nottingham Forest. Clough denied the claim and, though Davies put in an official complaint to the league, nothing came of the incident.[27]

Clough was also in trouble again when he was sent to the stands during Derby's 3–1 home defeat to Ipswich Town on 5 April. He was fined £1,000 and given a one match ban, which he served during Derby's final match of the campaign at home to Cardiff City.[28] Clough also gave himself some game time during the course of the season, coming on as a late substitute for the reserve side in their 2–1 victory over West Bromwich Albion reserves in their Central League Central Section clash.[29]

Derby suffered a major shock in the FA Cup, losing to Crawley Town 2–1. The result saw Clough's job at the club reportedly come under threat,[30] as he issued an apology to the club's supporters,[31] many of whom responded with demands for his dismissal.[32] Derby's Chief Executive Tom Glick answered fan's concerns by reiterating the club's support for Clough, saying: "Nigel is absolutely our guy. We have been clear about that continuously."[33]

During Derby's post-November struggles Clough came under focus for his consistent criticism of individual players,[34] which came to a head when he strongly criticised Tomasz Cywka after his mistake led to a late Portsmouth equaliser in a 1–1 draw at Fratton Park. Of Cywka, Clough said: "He's an extremely inexperienced and not very bright footballer... he can go back to Wigan or wherever he came from – I'm not really bothered – until he learns the game." These incidents led PFA Chief Gordon Taylor to criticise Clough, saying: "It cannot be appropriate to criticise your team in such a way in public. We'll sort things out... otherwise it looks an untenable situation."[35] Ultimately, nothing came of the incident but the outbursts, coupled with Derby's poor results on the pitch, led to some unrest among supporters. Clough's players were booed at the end of a 3–1 home defeat against Doncaster Rovers on 1 March 2011.[36]

Clough's continuing stay at the club was rewarded by overseeing Derby's best start to the season in 106 years as they opened the season with four victories from four and earned a Championship Manager of the Month nomination.[37]

A 1–1 draw with Barnsley on 28 September 2011 took Derby into second place and the automatic promotion spots for the first time in over a year. The results came during discussions over Clough's contract – which was due to expire at the end of the season[38] with Forest allegedly interested in securing their former-player's services.[39] Despite these reports however, there was no evidence that Clough and his staff were looking to go elsewhere and Clough entered into new contract discussions with Derby, stating "It has never been a question of if we wanted to stay or not. This is where our heart is."[40]

Clough signed a new three-year deal, to take him through until summer 2015, on 17 October, two days after a 1–1 draw with league leaders Southampton had kept Derby in the play-off places.[41] After signing the deal, Derby took just four points from their next five fixtures and slipped out of the playoff places. A 3–2 defeat at Peterborough United, after Derby had held a 2–0 lead, saw Clough hit out at the officials and the FA imposed a £2,000 fine on him.[42]

Derby suffered mixed form through the remainder of the season. By mid-April Derby found themselves 11th in the table, 5 points off the play-offs with four games remaining.[43] However, two defeats to Middlesbrough and Cardiff City in 4 days ended Derby's play-off chances. Derby finished the season 12th in the league, with Clough satisfied with the performances of the team, stating that a lack of firepower was the reason why they fell short and that it would be an area to improve on in the following season.[44]

The club also finally ended their interest in appointing a director of football,[45] something the club had been considering since May 2011.[46] This meant Clough retained control of the club's player recruitment policy and he was keen to add to his squad.[47] On the final match of the 2012–13 season, a 1–0 victory over Millwall helped Derby to finish the campaign in 10th place.[48]

After a mixed start to the 2013–14 season, Clough was sacked on 28 September after 3 defeats in eight days, the final of which was a 1–0 defeat to local rivals Nottingham Forest with Derby 14th in the table after 9 games.[49][50] He left the club as the longest serving Derby manager in over a decade.

Sheffield UnitedEdit

On 23 October 2013, Clough was appointed new manager of Sheffield United on a two-and-a-half-year deal.[51] Clough's tenure got off to a winning start as Sheffield United comfortably beat Crewe Alexandra 3–1 at Bramall Lane.[52] Clough was named League One's Manager of the Month for February 2014 after an improved run of form with four wins from five matches, including four clean sheets.[53]

On 9 March 2014, Clough's side beat Charlton Athletic 2–0 to set up an FA Cup semi-final tie against Hull City at Wembley, this was United's ninth consecutive win in all competitions with United climbing out of the League One relegation zone up to 11th in the table.[54] In May 2014, Clough was named FA Cup Manager of the Season by the League Managers Association in recognition of United's run to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.[55] Clough also led the Blades to the semi-finals of the League Cup in the 2014–15 season after a 1–0 win over Southampton at Bramall Lane.[56] Sheffield United parted company with Clough on 25 May 2015.[57]

Return to Burton AlbionEdit

Clough returned to Burton Albion for a second spell as manager in December 2015, after Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink left the post to join Queens Park Rangers.[58] Clough led the club to a 2nd place finish at the end of the season, gaining the club promotion to the Championship for the first time in their history. Clough kept the side in the league for two seasons before the club was relegated back to League One in May 2018 after a 23rd place finish. Clough later stepped down as manager in May 2020 due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the club.[59]

Managerial statisticsEdit

As of match played 10 March 2020[60]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record
P W D L Win %
Derby County 8 January 2009 28 September 2013 233 78 54 101 033.5
Sheffield United 23 October 2013 25 May 2015 104 49 30 25 047.1
Burton Albion 7 December 2015 18 May 2020 228 78 57 93 034.2
Total 565 205 141 219 036.3


As a playerEdit

Nottingham Forest

As a managerEdit

Burton Albion



  1. ^ "Nigel Clough". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  2. ^ Culley, Jon (9 January 2011). "Nigel Clough: Thick-skinned, brutally honest. Who does he take after?". The Independent. London. Retrieved 30 September 2013. Some sources such as his Liverpool FC profile Archived 3 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine indicate a 9 March 1966 birth date.
  3. ^ Rollin, Jack, ed. (1980). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1980–81. London: Queen Anne Press. p. 266. ISBN 0362020175.
  4. ^ Derby County boss Nigel Clough goes back to his roots as former school celebrates 50 years Archived 18 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine Derby Telegraph, 8 September 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  5. ^ "Allestree".
  6. ^ "Burton Albion: Nigel Clough to be replaced by Jake Buxton as Brewers boss". BBC Sport. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  7. ^ "Reds and Dons squeeze into Cup final". New Sunday Times. Kuala Lumpur: New Straits Times Press. 10 April 1988. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  8. ^ "Nigel Clough Liverpool". SportingHeroes. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  9. ^ "Liverpool all time playing records 1993/94 Season". Liverweb. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 27 October 2013.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  10. ^ Szreter, Adam (21 December 1996). "Pearce calls on a Clough for help at Forest". The Independent. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  11. ^ Culley, Jon (28 December 1996). "Clough's creativity enlivens Forest". The Independent. London. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Games played by Nigel Clough in 1997/1998". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  13. ^ "Nigel Clough". SportingHeroes. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Nigel Howard Clough". England Stats. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  15. ^ "Brewers go goal crazy in the Birmingham Senior Cup". Archived from the original on 22 December 2008. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Burton 3–0 Droylsden". BBC Sport. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  17. ^ "Games played by Nigel Clough in 2007/2008". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Burton Albion 0-0 Man Utd". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  19. ^ "Burton Albion 0-0 Manchester United 10 years on - Chris Hall on his best night in football". Burton Mail. 7 January 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  20. ^ Chronicle, Evening (19 January 2006). "Man Utd 5, Burton Albion 0". nechronicle.
  21. ^ "Blue Square (Conference) Premier 2008/2009 – Historical league standings at 1 January 2009". Burton Albion Mad. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  22. ^ "Derby confirm that Clough is on their managerial shortlist". Guardian. 5 January 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Clough takes over as Derby boss". BBC Sport. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2009.
  24. ^ "Rams confirm Clough as manager". Derby County F.C. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2009.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ Bevan, Chris (7 January 2009). "Derby 1–0 Man Utd". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 February 2009.
  26. ^ "Top half not so far away as the Rams almost fulfill pre-season predictions". Derby Evening Telegraph. 6 May 2010.
  27. ^ Taylor, Daniel (1 February 2010). "Nigel Clough expected to deny Billy Davies's claim of 'cowardly' assault". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  28. ^ "Derby manager Nigel Clough handed one-match FA ban". BBC. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  29. ^ "Derby County Res 2–1 WBA Res". Derby County F.C. 10 December 2010. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  30. ^ "Clough set for axe as Posh talk to Ferguson". The Independent. London. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  31. ^ "Clough Apologises To Supporters". Derby County F.C. 12 January 2011. Archived from the original on 13 January 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  32. ^ "Derby County fans' fury at shock FA Cup exit". BBC Sport. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  33. ^ "Derby chief Tom Glick says Nigel Clough's job is safe". BBC Sport. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  34. ^ "Nigel Clough lashes out at Dean Leacock and Paul Green". BBC Sport. 29 December 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  35. ^ "Nigel Clough wrong to slam Tomasz Cywka – Gordon Taylor". BBC Sport. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  36. ^ "Clough: The fans should have given us more stick". This Is Derbyshire. 2 March 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  37. ^ "Flying start to campaign puts Nigel in frame for top award". Derby Telegraph. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  38. ^ "Time for swift end to Clough contract issue for long-term good of Rams' future stability". Derby Telegraph. 27 September 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  39. ^ "Clough: We want to finish what we started". Derby Telegraph. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  40. ^ "Clough & Backroom Team Sign New Deals". Derby County F.C. 17 October 2011. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  41. ^ "Clough fined for comments". Derby County Mad. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  42. ^ "Nigel Clough: The play-offs are just beyond our reach". Derby Telegraph. 10 April 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  43. ^ "Clough: Final third is the key to a place in top six". Derby Evening Telegraph. 23 April 2012. Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  44. ^ "Derby County end interest in appointing director of football". BBC Sport. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  45. ^ "Derby County look to appoint transfer supremo". BBC Sport. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  46. ^ "Clough: Finishing on a high may help us recruit". Derby Telegraph. 17 April 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  47. ^ "Derby 1–0 Millwall". BBC Sport. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
  48. ^ "Nigel Clough: Derby County sack manager after defeat at Forest". BBC Sport. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  49. ^ "Nigel Clough sacked by Derby County after 1–0 defeat to Nottingham Forest". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  50. ^ "Nigel Clough: Sheffield United appoint ex-Derby County boss". BBC Sport. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
  51. ^ "Clough makes winning start". TeamTalk. 26 October 2013. Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
  52. ^ "Nigel collects monthly title". Sheffield United FC Official Web Site. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  53. ^ "Sheffield United: Blades can go back to the top - Michael Doyle". BBC Sport. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  54. ^ a b "Premier League: Brendan Rodgers and Tony Pulis win LMA Manager of Year awards". Sky Sports. 13 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  55. ^ "Sheffield United 1–0 Southampton". BBC Sport. 16 December 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  56. ^ "Sheffield United today announce that Nigel Clough, the Club's First Team Manager, and his Management staff, are to leave Bramall Lane with immediate effect".
  57. ^ "Nigel Clough: Burton Albion confirm former manager's return". BBC Sport. BBC. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  58. ^ "Burton Albion: Nigel Clough to be replaced by Jake Buxton as Brewers boss". BBC Sport. 18 May 2020. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  59. ^ "Managers: Nigel Clough". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  60. ^ "Burton Albion seal promotion to Championship as Doncaster relegated". The Guardian. 8 May 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  61. ^ a b c "Clough on long road to lifting Cup curse". The Guardian. 5 December 2005. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  62. ^ a b "Burton Albion". Steve Football Stats. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  63. ^ "Match Report: Burton Albion vs Gresley Rovers". Gresley FC. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  64. ^ "Birmingham Senior Cup - Birmingham City 5 Burton Albion 0". Birmingham Mail. 8 April 2008. Retrieved 8 April 2020.

External linksEdit