Forest climbs / England / Nottingham Forest /

Gradually fell into oblivion during the nineties, and even in the third division in 2005, Nottingham Forest has finally recovered from its long descent into hell. Twenty-three years after his last game in the Premier League, the distant double European champion finds the elite of British football. Great news for nostalgics, popular football fans, club finances… And for Brice Samba, of course!

We do not know the exact number of guys who managed to get in without a ticket at the Stade de France on Saturday evening during the Champions League final, and what the real crowds of this Liverpool-Real Madrid will be. But since the security devices seem a little more elaborate – and respected – across the Channel, we do know how many people were this Sunday afternoon at Wembley to attend the final of accession to the Premier League between Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest: 80,019. That is an influx slightly greater than the theoretical maximum capacity of the Dionysian enclosure. If this figure of course says something about the way football is experienced in Her Majesty’s kingdom, it also situates the issue of this poster between 3e and the 4e de Championship, who were vying for a ticket to the best championship in the world. most bankable also: this duel was neither more nor less than a match at 200 million euros, if we are to believe a study by the audit firm Deloitte. Either the amount – which can climb up to 350 million – that a promoted can hope to earn in the three years following his rise, provided that he remains the first year.

Twenty-three years in the closet

Winner on the lowest score thanks to a CSC of the Terrier Levi Colwill and the generosity of future record store Jonathan Moss, whose whistle went into retirement about twenty minutes before him, which deprived Huddersfield of two penalties in this period of time, Nottingham Forest is therefore not yet completely full of aces, if we rely on this ultimate condition: when they last came back to the top flight, in 1998, the Tricky Trees had immediately fallen back into D2, which was then still called First Division. Yes, all this is very far.

Moreover, Forest were not playing just to cover themselves in gold this Sunday, but above all to restore their image tarnished by 23 long seasons away from the elite of British football, an anomaly for one of its most prestigious clubs. , in view of its trophy showcase where two cups with big ears are enthroned (but only one championship, it is the only English club in this case), gleaned in 1979 and 1980 under the reign of the illustrious Brian Clough. Twenty-three seasons marked by a three-year stint in D3, a purgatory that no other former C1 winner has known, and three qualifications for the play-offs for the Premier League (2003, 2010, 2011 ), completed each time in the semi-finals.

cooper of heads

The fourth will therefore have been good for Nottingham, but who the hell could have predicted such a fate for this team last September when, at the end of the 7e day, it presented the most moldy start to the season in the history of the club for 108 years (one draw, six losses)? Maybe not even Steve Cooper himself, called to the rescue of Reds whose last trophy dates back to 1990 (the League Cup), and of which it was already the 14e manager since 2010. But behind every miracle there is often a man and the Welshman, to whom Jürgen Klopp placed a small big-up at the time of receiving his trophy for coach of the season across the Channel, is therefore this one.

With his guys, including his compatriot Brennan Johnson, author of 18 pawns in the league, Cooper was not content to hit Arsenal (1-0) in 32areto burst Leicester (4-1) in 16are and to annoy Liverpool (0-1), the future winner, in the quarterfinals of the Cup: he also, this Sunday, took personal revenge. Beaten in the semi-finals (in 2020) then in the final (in 2021) of the play-offs for the past two seasons with Swansea, each time by Brentford, the man who had guided the English U17s to the roof of the world in 2017 has finally defeated the Indian sign.

Nottingham Samba

And even two, even three: if this final pitted the 3e and the 4e (the teams ranked 3e at the 6e place participate in the play-offs) of the regular season for the fifth time in eight years, the lower ranked of the two had won only once in five, namely Fulham in 2020. Above all, this final opposed Forest to second club having signed the most climbs in PL following the play-offs (4, against 6 for Blackpool). But before hitting a Huddersfield which also remained on nine games without defeat in the Championship, the Welshman was able to count on a certain Brice Samba.

Long confined to an understudy role, whether at OM (2013-2017), Nancy (2015-2016) or Caen (2017-2019), where he only played one season as number 1 , the ex-future Steve Mandanda has won the last three seasons in the cages of Nottingham as well as in the hearts of fans of the Tricky Trees. A darling status which was further confirmed thanks to his three saves during the penalty shootout in the semi-finals against Sheffield United on May 17. It deserved a little rest against Huddersfield, who did not target the slightest shot this Sunday against a Samba who even gave way in the last minutes to Ethan Horváth, his understudy. In view of what awaits Reds on the rung above, this rest will probably be of short duration. Like the night that the regulars of the City Ground have probably just spent, the scene of distant past exploits that only require one thing: to make room for new memories in local memories.

By Simon Butel

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