From the glory days of the past to the present, Nottingham Forest has produced some exceptional talents. In this article, we delve into the rich history of the club and present our picks for the Top 10 Best Nottingham Forest Players of All Time. Prepare to discover these legendary figures below.
Who Are the Best Nottingham Forest Soccer Players of All Time?
- Stuart Pearce
- Peter Shilton
- Des Walker
- John Robertson
- Kenny Burns
- Stan Collymore
- Trevor Francis
- Viv Anderson
- Roy Keane
- Joe Worrall
1. Stuart Pearce
- Two-time Full Members’ Cup
- 298 matches, 47 goals
- Two-time English League Cup winner
Stuart Pearce, known as “Psycho,” is widely recognized as the best defender of Nottingham Forest. Pearce’s 12-year spell at Forest saw him become the club’s most-capped international player, earning 76 of his 78 appearances for England while with the team. He captained both Nottingham Forest and the national side on several occasions. At Forest, Pearce achieved notable successes, including winning two League Cups and the Full Members Cup. He showcased his skill from set-pieces, scoring a memorable goal from a free-kick in the 1991 FA Cup final. Pearce’s unwavering and unforgiving style of play is the reason he earned the nickname “Psycho.”
After retiring, Pearce pursued a managerial career, starting as a caretaker at Nottingham Forest, and then later managing the Great Britain Olympic football team. Pearce’s contributions on and off the field have solidified his status as a respected figure in English football, particularly among Nottingham Forest supporters.
2. Peter Shilton
- 1977-78 Player of the Year
- 90 matches, 66 goals conceded
- Two-time UEFA Super Cup winner
Peter Leslie Shilton OBE, the iconic English goalkeeper, had a remarkable 30-year career spanning 11 clubs. He played over 1,000 league games, a record held by few. Shilton achieved tremendous success with Nottingham Forest, winning two European Cups, a UEFA Super Cup, the First Division championship, and the Football League Cup. Internationally, Shilton represented England in multiple FIFA World Cups and UEFA European Championships.
With 125 caps, he holds the record for the most appearances for the England National Team. Shilton’s goalkeeping prowess was widely recognized, earning him a place among the top goalkeepers of the 20th century. He was known for his physical presence, composure, agility, and exceptional shot-stopping abilities. Despite his longevity, critics noted a decline in his speed and agility in his later years. Despite the setbacks, his achievements and contributions to Nottingham Forest and the England national team cemented his place as a footballing legend.
3. Des Walker
- Three-time Nottingham Forest Player of the Season
- 235 matches, 1 goal
- 1990 Alan Hardaker Trophy winner
Des Walker, a true defensive stalwart, became a legendary figure at Nottingham Forest during his nine-year tenure. Spotted playing locally in London, Walker was signed by Forest as an apprentice and quickly rose through the ranks. His contributions to Forest’s successes in various tournaments, including winning the Football League Centenary Tournament and the Full Members Cup, were invaluable. Walker’s outstanding performances earned him multiple Player of the Year awards and selections in the prestigious PFA Team of the Year.
Internationally, he represented England in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, displaying exceptional defensive skills and earning widespread acclaim. Walker’s speed, anticipation, and defensive prowess made him a formidable force in the backline. With his brilliant mind for defending, he was often entrusted with marking some of the game’s greatest players. Des Walker’s legacy as a pacey and reliable central defender remains etched in the history of Nottingham Forest and English football.
4. John Robertson
- 1979-80 UEFA Super Cup winner
- 119 matches, 19 goals
- Two-time English League Cup Winner
John Robertson, the legendary Scottish footballer, etched his name in Nottingham Forest’s history with his exceptional skills and remarkable achievements. Joining the club in 1970, Robertson’s career flourished under the guidance of manager Brian Clough. Known for his exquisite ball delivery, Robertson played a crucial role in Forest’s success, including their back-to-back European Cup victories in 1979 and 1980. Robertson also played a pivotal part in Forest’s promotions, cup victories, and other accolades. His creativity and talent earned him praise from Clough, who described him as an artist on the football pitch.
Robertson’s footballing ability was exceptional, making him one of the finest players of his era. After retiring, Robertson transitioned into coaching and served as an assistant to Martin O’Neill at various clubs. His contribution to Nottingham Forest and his status as a fan favorite solidify his legacy as one of the greatest players in the club’s history.
5. Kenny Burns
- Two-time European Champion Clubs’ Cup winner
- 70 matches, 6 goals
- 1979 European Super Cup winner
Kenny Burns made a significant impact during his former playing career at Nottingham Forest. He began his professional journey at Birmingham City before joining Nottingham Forest in 1977. At Forest, Burns was converted from a striker to a central defender by renowned managers Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. Burns was a key figure as Forest won the Football League title in the 1977-78 season, their first year back in the top flight. He also captained the side to victory in the Football League Cup that season.
Burns’ influence extended to the European stage, in which his tenacious style of play, combined with a shrewd footballing brain, made him a formidable presence at the back. After leaving Forest, Burns had stints at various clubs in Sweden. Kenny Burns’ contributions to Nottingham Forest, both domestically and in Europe, have solidified his status as one of the club’s greatest defenders of all time.
6. Stan Collymore
- 1993-94 PFA Team of the Year
- 37 matches, 22 goals
- 1996 Premier League Player of the Month
Stan Collymore had a highly successful and impactful stint at Nottingham Forest, leaving an indelible mark on the club. Joining Forest in 1993 for a fee of £2.25 million, Collymore immediately made his presence felt. In his first season with Forest, Collymore played a pivotal role in their promotion to the Premier League. His goal-scoring prowess and contributions led the team to secure a second-place finish and automatic promotion to English football’s top flight.
During the 1994-1995 Premier League season, Collymore continued to excel, becoming Forest’s leading goalscorer with an impressive tally of 22 goals. His performances helped Forest continually challenge for a top-three finish, and the team’s thirteen-game unbeaten run secured them a place in the UEFA Cup for the following season. Playing a crucial role in the club’s success and elevating their status, Stan Collymore left a lasting legacy in the minds of Nottingham Forest fans.
7. Trevor Francis
- Two-time European Cup winner
- 28 matches, 12 goals
- 1979 European Super Cup winner
Trevor Francis enjoyed great success and accomplishments during his time at Nottingham Forest. After his transfer from Birmingham City in 1979, he became the first British footballer to command a million-pound fee. Francis immediately made an impact, scoring the winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final against Malmö. The following year, he played a crucial role as Forest won the European Cup for the second consecutive time. His contributions were instrumental in Forest’s triumphs, including their retention of the League Cup.
Although his Forest career was hindered by an Achilles injury, Francis remained a key player for the club. Trevor Francis’ time at Nottingham Forest saw him achieve remarkable success on the European stage and establish himself as one of the club’s most influential players. His contributions to Forest’s European dominance cemented his legacy as a key figure in the club’s history and solidified his place among the greats.
8. Viv Anderson
- Three-time English League Cup winner
- 110 matches, 6 goals
- 1978-79 UEFA Super Cup winner
Viv Anderson made a significant impact during his time at Nottingham Forest, contributing to their success under Brian Clough. He played a vital role in Forest’s achievements, including winning the 1977-78 Football League title, the 1978-79 European Cup, and the 1979-80 European Cup. As one of the first black players to represent top English clubs, Anderson faced racial abuse but remained resilient. His performances on the field showcased his exceptional skills as a right-back.
Anderson’s defensive prowess and ability to join the attack made him an asset for Forest. He played an essential role in Forest’s back-to-back European Cup triumphs, showcasing his talent and contributing to the team’s historic achievements. Anderson’s legacy at Nottingham Forest remains as one of the club’s most accomplished and pioneering players. His success and resilience in the face of adversity make him an iconic figure in the history of both the club and English football.
9. Roy Keane
- Seven-time English champion
- 125 matches, 25 goals
- Four-time English Super Cup winner
Joining the club in 1990, Roy Keane established himself as a dominant midfielder. His aggressive and hard-working style of play propelled Forest to the FA Cup final in 1991, where they narrowly missed out on the trophy. Keane’s performances garnered attention, as he transferred to Manchester United for a record-breaking fee.
Although his stint at Forest was relatively short, Keane displayed exceptional talent and leadership on the pitch, setting a high standard for his teammates. His contributions helped lay the groundwork for Forest’s future success. Keane’s success at Forest served as a stepping stone for his illustrious career at Manchester United, where he would go on to become one of the greatest midfielders of his generation. While his time at Forest was a chapter in his football journey, it laid the foundation for the success that would follow in his career.
10. Joe Worrall
- 2017 Toulon Tournament Silver Ball winner
- 217 matches, 5 goals
- 2020-21 Nottingham Forest Player of the Season
Joe Worrall has made significant contributions to Nottingham Forest both as a player and as the team’s captain. Joining the club in 2011, Worrall progressed through the youth ranks and made his first-team debut in 2016. Since then, he has established himself as a key figure in the club’s defense. Worrall’s performances have caught the attention of Premier League clubs. Despite interest from elsewhere, Worrall has remained loyal to Forest, signing contracts to extend his stay at the club.
During the 2021-22 season, Worrall played a pivotal role in Forest’s promotion to the Premier League, captaining the team to victory in the Play-off final. His performances were recognized with inclusion in the EFL Championship Team of the Season. As Nottingham Forest’s captain for the 2022-23 Premier League season, Joe Worrall continues to lead by example, bringing his experience, defensive abilities, and leadership skills to the top flight of English football.
- Archie Gemmill
- Bob McKinlay
- Brian Clough
- Chris Cohen
- Grenville Morris
- Ian Storey-Moore
- John McGovern
- Martin O’Neil
- Nigel Clough
- Wally Ardron