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Brian Clough was a British professional soccer player and later coach, best know for his work with Derby County and Nottingham Forest.
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Soccer player and manager. Brian Howard Clough was born into a large, working-class family in Middlesbrough, England, on March 21, 1935. Clough was the sixth of nine children born into a close-knit family of football (soccer) fans. From an early age, sports, stayed at the forefront of Clough's mind. Though his teachers claimed he was a bright boy, school never captured his interest in the same way that football did. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 to play center forward for the small local side Billingham Synthonia, leaving in 1953 for two years of mandatory national service in the Royal Air Force.
Upon his return from the military in 1955, Clough signed as a striker with his hometown club, Middlesbrough F.C., and quickly became a fan favorite, banging in a remarkable 197 goals in 213 matches over his six years with the club. He then moved to North East rivals Sunderland, scoring another 54 goals in 61 appearances with the Black Cats. Clough's playing career as a prolific goal scorer was cut short by a devastating knee injury suffered in a collision with an opposing goalkeeper in late 1962. Clough tried to return from the injury, which had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, one of the major knee ligaments, in 1964 but appeared in only a handful of games before retiring.
Not yet 30 years old when forced to give up his playing career, Clough quickly turned to football management, where he would eventually become famous. When he took the reins of Hartlepool United of the Fourth Division in 1965, Clough became the youngest manager in the Football League. He brought the same level of ambition, obsession, and skill to management that he earlier carried onto the pitch as a player. Clough's stay at Hartlepool was brief, but it was there that he first teamed up with assistant coach Peter Taylor, who would prove to be an invaluable partner throughout his career.
In 1967, Clough and Taylor left Hartlepool to take over management duties at Derby County of the Second Division. Clough's time at Derby set the mold for his career to come. There, he experienced the highs of success and weathered storms of controversy over his dealings with board members, players and fans. When he first signed on at the club, he quickly shook things up by letting many of the current players go, shrewdly signing new talent and even firing two tea ladies he overheard giggling after a Derby loss. His methods may have caused tumult, but they soon proved highly effective. In 1968, Clough led Derby to the Division Two title, winning the club promotion back to the top tier of English football after more than a decade in the Second Division.
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To Americans, it is soccer. Elsewhere, it is called football, calcio or nogomet. Whatever your preference, with estimates of more than 250 million participants across 200-plus countries, it is a game of unmatched global reach and popularity. It's been noted that one doesn't need special size or skills to play, but of course the game's all-time greats displayed dazzling combinations of speed, smarts and athletic ability throughout their careers. Look through our roster of soccer legends, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Maradona, and you'll understand why this sport of many names is also known as "the beautiful game."
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