While we take our Leicester City walk into the Nottingham Forest, we will pass a number of threes and paths with a lot of good history between the clubs, and we will start with the current manager at Nottingham Forest, Martin O’Neill.
We all know the great years we had under “MON” but his life and Leicester City connections goes far far back all to the days when he signed for Nottingham Forest.
The great Matt Gillies had taken charge at City Ground back in 1969 shortly after leaving Leicester City. Gillies was in charge of the “foxes” through the 60’s bringing home both winning and runners-up medals in the cups as well as guiding the club out in Europe and signing some of the greatest players in the history of the club, just to mention three, Gordon Banks, Derek Dougan and Allan Clarke.
Matt Gillies had an eye for the right player and he spotted Martin O’Neill over in Northern Ireland and decided to sign him, giving MON his debut in November 1971. Gillies had to sell star names such as Peter Cormack, Ian Storey-Moore and Henry Newton, as he tried to build a new team with new and not so known players, among those Martin O’Neill.
Gillies left his position in 1972 while Martin O’Neill established himself in the team and was still there when a certain Brian Clough took over in 1975. John Robertson, who we all knew as MON’s assistant at Leicester City, was also coming through, and over the years became a “key” player in establishing one of the best football teams in Europe.
To get everything in the right setting, Brian Clough needed a World class goalkeeper and the expert he was went to Stoke City to bring in Peter Shilton who had dropped into the 2nd tier with The Potters and made a move and shortly after Shilton was on board.
Peter Shilton, a World class goalkeeper, an England international, a former Leicester City great, leaving the club for a World record fee, £325,000 back in 1974, signed by Stoke and know back in the limelight going all the way in that first season winning the League and a newly promoted team, doing the impossible, probably more than 5000/1 on them as well. There was former Leicester City great in a team together with two that later would bring Leicester City to the heights we never believed.
One other hero coming through was Gary Mills. He was a young talent and got to fame fast and his teens as he was part of that European Cup win in 1980, going on and playing for Forest from 1978 to 1982. Gary Mills later turned up at Leicester City, signed by Brian Little and went on to play 200 league games for Leicester City, being voted player of the year on two occasions.
Mills had left Leicester City for a 2nd spell at Notts County a year before Martin O’Neill took charge of the club, but by then been one of those who had actually played for not only Leicester City and Nottingham Forest, but also played for Derby County, another local rival, seeing him in the same light as others such as Peter Shilton and Trevor Christie.
Trevor Christie is another former Leicester City and Nottingham Forest player who followed the path of Gary Mills, being sold to Forest back in 1979 as a young proven goalscorer at level 2, then joining Notts County, and later moving to Forest, signed by Brian Clough.
During the 80’s Leicester City manager Bryan Hamilton got a chance to loan Kjetil Osvold from Nottingham Forest. (Osvold, is to date the only Norwegian to ever have played for Leicester City) doing so back in 1987, on a short loan spell while on the books at Forest.
Going a few years on another loan signing was made and this time it was Lee Glover who made the move from Nottingham to Leicester, spending a short time at the club back in 1989, playing five games and scoring one goal.
Martin O’Neill was a clever man in the transfer market and one of his latest signings as a Leicester City manager was Stan Collymore, who at one time was the most expensive signing in English football when he moved from Nottingham Forest to Liverpool for a fee of £8,5million back in 1995. Today seen as peanuts, but believe me still a great load of money. Collymore had a much better life at Forest than at Leicester, fondly remembered for his goals against Sunderland, but also sadly remembered for being “Stan The Fireman” as well.
When Stan Collymore arrived a former Forest squad member, never played league football while at City Ground, Phil Gilchrist had been added, and also Alan Fettis had been in the Leicester City squad, loaned in as a cover for Kasey Keller. He had a short life at Forest behind him when he joined from Blackburn Rovers.
During the years of Micky Adams, Alan Rogers joined and played his part in the 1992/93 promotion season, joined by fellow Forest man, Nicky Summerbee, who turned out for Leicester City without a professional contract, a surreal situation not getting paid, but contributing to that promotion campaign.
Leicester had to see relegation in their eyes after that season and in the rebuild of Micky Adams another former Forest player arrived, Scot Gemmill joining from Everton. He had seen his best years and the son of Archie and also him being a Scottish international never managed to do what he did at Forest while at Leicester City.
Two other names that appeared at Leicester City were Matty Fryatt and Jack Hobbs who both later turned out for Nottingham Forest. When Nigel Pearson came in for his 2nd spell as manager he went to Forest and made one of the best moves ever, looking at transfers done by Leicester City managers, signing up, Wes Morgan. Morgan never looked back, despite having played more than 350 league games for Nottingham Forest, shortly after taking over the captaincy and we all know the rest of the story. Wes is still around, still the captain and will probably play a part next season as well. He spent his first 10 years in league football at Forest and has seen the last 7 years at King Power always being the captain of that Premier League winning team back in 2015/16.
Former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson was born in Nottingham, but never played or been a manager at County or Forest. Other names to occur are Franz Carr, Kevin Campbell, Gary Charles, Andy Johnson and Garry Parker who all did their jobs in both camps. The latest name to add to those City and Forest players is Yohan Benalouane who joined Forest in January from Leicester City.