On 28th May 1980, Nottingham Forest played in the UEFA European Cup Final. The match was played at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain. They were playing against Hamburger SV from West Germany. The team is generally called SV Hamburg.
The referee for the game was Antonio Garrido, from Portugal. There were 51,000 fans in attendance. Nottingham Forest’s kit was red. Hamburger’s kit was White. John McGovern was the captain for Forest, and Peter Nogly the captain for Hamburger SV. Forest at this time was managed by Brian Clough, and Branko Zebec was the manager of Hamburger.
At the 21st minute, Forest player John Robertson managed to squeeze a goal past the Hamburg goalkeeper, Rudolf Kargus. It was the only and winning goal of the game.
By winning the game, this gave Nottingham Forest back-to-back European Cup titles, as they had won the UEFA European Cup previously the year before in 1979 against Malmo Fotbollforening (Malmo FF). It also meant that Forest was the first club to win the European Cup more times than their domestic League! Because they won back-to-back European Cups, the players involved were known as ‘miracle men’ and Brian Clough was certainly perceived as the manager who worked his magic on the club. Brian Clough took over as manager of Nottingham Forest in 1975 and at the time Forest was 13th in the old Division Two; so their journey from being told ‘you’ll never achieve anything’ to winning two European Cup Finals in the course of 5 years was quite remarkable.
In their journey to winning these two European Cups, they defeated Liverpool (who had been double European Cup Winners). The five players who were notorious in winning these two cups were: Viv Anderson, Martin O’Neill, Tony Woodcock, John Robertson and Ian Bowyer. Other players included Peter Shilton who was the most expensive goalkeeper in the league at that point, and Trevor Francis, who was the first £1 million signing. Gary Birtles was made into the European young player of the year under Clough and Taylor’s management. Birtles was proud of the fact that Nottingham Forest had knocked Liverpool out of the European Cup because he said: “Every time I watch Liverpool now I look for the flags on the Kop because there’s a two-year gap in the dates … they go from ’77 and ’78 to ’81. And I always think: ‘That’s us, that gap. We did that.”
When Peter Shilton was trying to train for the final, he ran around a round-about of a dual-carriageway with various cars hooting their horns, because it was the only piece of grass he could find near the resort they were staying at in Spain.
John Robertson played a significant role in both of the European Cup Finals for Nottingham Forest, in the first he helped set up the ball for Francis to head; and in this 1980 one, he scored the winning goal. Forest’s trainer Jimmy Gordon praised John Robertson as being a cross between Tom Finney and Stan Matthews, with something extra on top.