Frank Clark's last football game was a European final. It is not a bad way to bow down.
It was in May 1979 when Nottingham Forest defeated Malmö 1-0 in Munich to complete the fastest fairy tale.
In May 1977, Forest took third place in the old Second Division to strip off the promotion. Twelve months later, Forest was champion of England. Twelve more and they were European champions.
Frank Clark (L) and Larry Lloyd celebrate the victory of Nottingham Forest in the European Cup final
The forest of Nottingham: Shilton; Anderson, Lloyd, Burns, Clark; Francis, McGovern, Bowyer, Robertson; Birtles, woodcock
Gate: Francis 45
Manager: Brian Clough
Malmo: Moller; Andersson, Erlandsson, Jonsson, Andersson; Tapper, Ljungberg, Prytz, Kinnvall; Hansson, Cervin
Manager: Bob Houghton
Referee: E Linemayr (Austria)
Clark & # 39; s next birthday to Munich was his 36th birthday. Not that he intended to celebrate it anywhere but on the City Ground.
"I did not think it was my last game," he says of the Malmö game. "I had another year in my contract, and indeed, Brian had offered me another year to develop the children."
Brian was Brian Clough, the legend manager of Forest.
"But then Ken called Knighton out of the blue. I did not really know him. But he offered me the job as Deputy Manager at Sunderland. "
Clark went to Wearside and finished an incredible four years in Nottingham. They were as unexpected as Knighton's request and also started with a startling phone call.
Born in County Durham Clark was a player from Newcastle United since 1962 and won the 1969 Fairs Cup (precursor of the Europa League). After 484 Newcastle games, he was released in 1975 abruptly.
Clark dribbles the ball during the finals in the Olympic Stadium in Munich against Malmö
"I've been there for 13 years," he says. "After the last game of the season, I was told that I was in the locker room with Keith Burkinshaw, the first team coach. Then (manager) Joe Harvey came in and said, "I'm sorry to tell you, we've all been fired." Just like that. No warning.
"I was 31 years old and felt I had a few years left." But I have not received many offers: Hartlepool, Doncaster Rovers. Then Brian answered the phone. Dougie Wetherall, who worked for the Daily Mail, told Brian I was available. "
Clow and Clark got together at the Scotch Corner. Clark's car collapsed in the Tyne tunnel.
"Brian was actually waiting," remembers Clark. "The first thing he said was," What really attracts me is that you are cheap. "But the contract was sorted and I did not miss a match for two years."
The club that Clark joined did not look like European champions at all. He made his Forest debut in August 1975 against Plymouth in front of 13,000.
Eight months later, seven of the Forest players who would face Malmo in the European Cup squad lost 3-2 to 5,000 in York City. Forest became eighth in 1975-76.
The defender played the entire 90 minutes in his last competitive game
"I remember York," says Clark. "Brian inherited some good players, but at the time they did not look that way. Then Peter Taylor came and Brian was rejuvenated.
Clough's and Taylor's spells were such that Forest, after being secured by a point over Bolton Wanderers, suddenly won the First Division instead of losing in York.
They bought well – Larry Lloyd, Kenny Burns, Archie Gemmill, Peter Shilton – and Clark says that the confidence of existing players skyrocketed.
"Brian and Peter showed courage and paid £ 350,000 for a goalkeeper if no one else would," adds Clark to the acquisition of Shilton.
"What they did to Kenny was remarkable. Kenny was a striker with a terrible reputation. In the first session, coach Jimmy Gordon threw him the # 6 shirt. There was no explanation that he would play in the middle. "Oh?" Said Kenny. "OK." & # 39;
Forest had never won the league, and when they were drawn in the European Cup, it was the defending champion Liverpool.
"That was a huge disappointment," says Clark. "They were not just English, they were undoubtedly the best team in Europe." They have exceeded the best.
Viv Anderson and Clark lead the trophy after defeating Malmö to complete the fairy tale
"Brian was obsessed with playing the ball forward or moving forward. He would get angry with someone who would return it if he could move it forward.
"Garry Birtles made a difference, they sold Peter Withe without a replacement, and it was really amazing." In desperation, they clung to Birtles in front.
"It's one of many elements, I think the best managers need a bit of luck, Garry Birtles belonged to Brian and Peter."
Forest was on his way to Munich and although they had lost in the semifinals after 20 minutes at home against Cologne, they managed it anyway. For the finale Trevor Francis was admitted for the first time in Europe. He scored the winner.
"We were a bit broke – I think John Robertson has played 70 games this season," says Clark.
"The performance was a bit of an anti-climax, but Brian said in the dressing room," Do not worry, in a few years, everyone will remember who won the medals of the winners. "Old free transfer was one of them.
Black & White and Red All Over by Frank Clark. Now outside.