Johnny Metgod talks Brian Clough and THIS free-kick against West Ham
Johnny Metgod transitions from Sunderland’s Roker Roar to filthy conditions and pitches of kicked-up mud and no grass to sausage, egg and fries with the same unwavering stride that was once the hallmark of his sleek midfield command.
The Dutchman whips up psychology classes with Brian Clough and roast dinners with Tony Adams. He recalls five lost trophies with Real Madrid and a final loss against Ipswich when AZ Alkmaar were still reeling from the wild celebrations of their title win, but he starts with the free-kick against West Ham.
Where else? That free-kick has taken on a life of its own since the advent of social media and when Metgod returned to Nottingham Forest to take a seat on the board more than 30 years later, he was still talking about it.
“As soon as it left my foot, I knew I was going to hit it perfectly,” he says with a smile. “I didn’t know it was going in because it wasn’t like I was aiming for a corner. I was just trying to blast it and keep it low.
“I scored some free-kicks at Forest. One against Manchester United when we were 2-0 down at half-time and the scoreboard showed 90 minutes when I scored a winner.
Johnny Metgod spoke glowingly about his time in England with Nottingham Forest
The Dutchman played under Brian Clough at the club for three years and said he misses the camaraderie the most
“One against Wimbledon, one against Spurs, one against Aston Villa. Not much said. Then one against Southampton with Peter Shilton in goal and it turned into something more. He was a very good goalkeeper and people realized that it takes something special to beat him with a free kick.
“But none of them were like the one against West Ham. That was the only place I really smashed it.’ It was April 1986 and West Ham were chasing the title, 10 points behind leaders Liverpool with five games in hand. They lost 2-1 at the City Ground. The highlights were televised, so footage survives of a wild shot screeching from Metgod’s right boot.
Those of us who stand behind the goal will never forget it. The long-legged run-up, something like a triple jumper. Surely he’s not thinking about… Oh yes, he is.
The audacity to try it from 30 meters. The momentum shot through the ball. The wave of disbelief turned to a dizzying roar as it seemed to pick up speed and punch Phil Parkes.
Nor shall we forget the jubilant, finger-wagging celebration of the tall, slender Dutch maestro. We hadn’t seen too many of his peers in English football in 1986. Maybe that’s why it got stuck in the brain.
“Ninety-five percent of the people who remember me at Nottingham say, ‘Oh, the free-kick against West Ham’. That’s how it is. In Rotterdam they would probably remember that we won the league with Feyenoord in 1993. AZ as well. It’s different in Madrid, they’ll probably say I was a player in a team that lost five finals.”
At the stadium of ADO Den Haag, where he is assistant coach, Metgod takes a sip of water and lists Real’s five near misses in 1982-83. Beaten for the Spanish title on the last day after losing 1-0 in Valencia. Beaten in the Spanish Supercup. Beaten in the Copa del Rey and the Copa de la Liga. Beaten in extra time by Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
Metgod said AZ Alkmaar didn’t help themselves against Ipswich by going over the top with their 1981 title celebrations
The Dutchman said Clough’s ability to believe and trust his players is what sets him apart
“If you almost win trophies in Madrid, that’s nothing,” shrugs the first Dutchman to play for Real, from AZ, where he was part of a team that held the stranglehold of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord in Dutch football and its playing figures Stars like Kees Kist and Jan Peters had left. AZ also reached the UEFA Cup final, losing 3-0 in the first leg at Ipswich, three days after giving the club their first Dutch title.
“We beat Feyenoord 5-1 and there were some big celebrations,” Metgod recalled.
“When we got on the plane on Monday, some of them could barely get up the steps. If we hadn’t won the league three days earlier, we could have done better.
Metgod scored as AZ won the second leg 4-2 but lost 5-4 on aggregate.
His passing style was adored by Clough, although he wasn’t spared the occasional tongue swipe from a manager unenthusiastic about the sheepskin gloves and leggings Metgod wore on a snow-covered pitch at Crystal Palace.
“He hated them,” Metgod admits. “He always said I was 6ft 4” and not physically enough, but he knew the strength of my game was my technique and he said, ‘If you talk about passing, he’s great.’
Clough wasn’t a fan of leggings, which he wore in freezing temperatures – but he knew his qualities lay in his technical ability
A tall and lanky defender, Metgod became a hero to many Nottingham Forest supporters
“Sometimes an arm around his shoulder and a kick in the butt to keep your feet on the ground or to motivate you to prove him wrong. Psychology, that’s it.
“You can’t compare the training. The game has evolved. When I first started at Forest, Paul Hart never went out to warm up. He took a hot bath until a quarter to three.
“Cloughie put you in charge of knowing what to do and because of his personality he got the best out of his players.”
Metgod returned to the East Midlands to join Nigel Clough at Derby during a nomadic coaching career. He switched between roles at Rotterdam clubs Feyenoord and Excelsior and worked in the United States and United Arab Emirates before returning to the Netherlands with Den Haag last year.
He has also teamed up twice with Adams at Portsmouth and Granada, having met when the former England captain visited Feyenoord towards the end of his career to become a manager.
“I invited him over one night and my wife Patty cooked a Sunday roast,” says Metgod. “We stayed in touch.” The pair found themselves on opposite sides of the north London divide for a season, although it wasn’t the best of times for the Dutchman, who was signed by David Pleat to replace Glenn Hoddle. “That was my first problem,” he says. “People compared me to a Spurs icon.”
Metgod missed part of the season after a hernia operation and after Pleat was replaced by Terry Venables returned to Dutch football to end his playing career at Feyenoord. At 65, he insists he wouldn’t change a thing. “Not even the money,” he insists, and certainly not the camaraderie of Friday afternoons in Nottingham.
“You’re getting older and you’re romanticizing but as I was cycling home past the cricket ground and up Musters Road where there was a cafeteria and on a Friday before a home game I saw seven, eight, nine, ten players, their parked cars and go to the cafeteria.
“I thought, ‘What are they doing?’ So after a few weeks I said to Ian Bowyer, ‘I can see you going to the cafeteria, what’s up?’ And he said, ‘Come with me next week’.
While modern football has its great assets, he argues, the old days had a different kind of romance
After traveling all over Europe as a coach, he is now back in his homeland with ADO Den Haag
“Well it was great. My first encounter with a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie and with sausage, fries and egg. We sat there, sometimes 10 players, for an hour or two. Just socializing.
“I appreciated the camaraderie. Well that’s impossible, everyone would be on their phones. Now the pitches are immaculate but I loved the pitches where the only grass was near the corner flag.
“And I always tell stories about the Roker Roar at Roker Park, with all the noise from the stands behind the gate. Always windy and rainy on the coast, useless conditions. Bad weather not only in Sunderland.
“Now they’re playing at the Stadium of Light and it’s beautiful because now everything has to be top notch, but for me those things were the appeal of football.”
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-11926035/Johnny-Metgod-talks-Brian-Clough-free-kick-against-West-Ham.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Johnny Metgod talks Brian Clough and THIS free-kick against West Ham