Steve Wigley spent six years at the City Ground as a player.
England v France
Under-21 International Match
The City Ground, Nottingham Forest FC
8pm, Tuesday 31 March 2009
Tickets £10 adults and £5 children and concessions
Ticket hotline: 0871 226 1980
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Live on Setanta
Stuart Pearce is not the only member of the England coaching staff looking forward to a return to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night.
When The Three Lions take on France at the City Ground, it will also be a chance for former Forest favourite Steve Wigley to return to his roots.
Although orginally from the north west, Wigley signed his first professional contract with Forest after being signed by the legendary Brian Clough from non-League Curzon Ashton.
And as Wigley, a tricky winger who spent six years at the City Ground, remembers fondly the days working under Clough, he looks forward to going back to his old stomping ground with England Under-21s.
"I was playing in non-League and I had a choice of a few clubs," recalls Wigley. "Forest were European Champions at the time but always had a knack of picking good players out of non-League football.
"I went there for two weeks on trial, played in a couple of reserve games and was offered a contract. For six months afterwards I was wandering around these players thinking to myself ‘what am I doing here’ it’s a bit much for me," he said.
"It was an unbelievable time. They’d just won the European Cup but the team started to break up, so they were in a bit of a transitional period."
"Cloughie was very blunt. He could make you feel ten foot tall, but he could always bring you back down to earth. I remember him saying to me once, ‘There’s them that lays bricks and them that carries them, and you’ll always be carrying them'.
"That message has stuck with me forever, but that was typical of him. People of Nottingham Forest will only remember Brian Clough in one way. As a genius."
And like many of Brian Clough's former players, Wigley moved into coaching and management when his playing career ended, which also took in periods at Sheffield United, Birmingham City and Portsmouth.
After a three years managing Aldershot Town, Wigley returned to Forest to work at their Academy with Paul Hart before the path took him back to the first team where he had a stint as manager. And, he says, the mentality instilled by the Clough-era was still evident around the club.
"Paul and I had played together under Brian Clough. I started on the coaching side at Academy level and was fortunate enough to have worked at what was a very successful academy, producing the likes of Michael Dawson, Jermaine Jenas and Andy Reid among others," said Wigley.
"The standards that was built on gave me a football education on the things you inherit working at Forest or with Cloughie.
"If you go to Forest, and I’ve been to see them a few times in the last couple of years, there’s over 20,000 people at the games, a great atmosphere and the fans are superb.
"You always talk about that Cloughie era as it’s impossible not to when you mention Nottingham Forest, but they are proud of their club, proud of their history and staunch supporters of the club believe they can get back to the Premier League, and I believe they can.
"It’s a club that is very close to my heart, I look for their results on a Saturday, it’s where I started. There’s a lot of staff still there who I know but I haven’t been back with a team in years and I’m looking forward to going back on Tuesday," he added.
"The atmosphere will be great, I know that they get behind their team and are very passionate about their football."