Steve Cooper urges Nottingham Forest to ‘stand on the shoulders’ of past heroes

Forest can end a 23-year exile from the English top tier if they beat Huddersfield in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final on Sunday.

By Press Association Published: 27 May 2022 - 4.00pm

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper wants his side to “stand on the shoulders” of past heroes and fire the club back to the Premier League.

Forest can end a 23-year exile from the English top tier if they beat Huddersfield in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final on Sunday.

The City Ground club have a rich history, with two European Cups and domestic success under Brian Clough, but the last 35 years have been a famine.

Cooper has taken Forest closer to getting back to the big time than any one else since their 1999 relegation and he wants his players to embrace the past and use it to create their own slice of history.

“The club is built on that history and that era and we are very proud of that. We embrace what it is and why the club is what it is today, it is largely down to that history.

“We embrace it but at the same time we also want to build on that and create a positive next chapter, we have a large generation of supporters who are going to Wembley for the first time, we are trying to create something that engages them to understand why they support Nottingham Forest.

“Embrace the past, stand on the shoulders - we want to do that but at the same time, understanding what might be possible”
- Steve Cooper

“That is what we are trying to do. Embrace the past, stand on the shoulders – we want to do that but at the same time, understanding what might be possible.

“What is at stake is a massive motivation and what can be achieved is a dream, of course.

“But we have to stay focused on the job, know what it takes to win. We know what the possible outcome may be but it is sticking to the process that matters.

“We go there so confident, so motivated, it is about getting down there and getting to work.”

SOUTHAMPTON VS NOTTINGHAM FOREST LEAGUE CUP
Forest have a rich pedigree of playing at the national stadium (PA Archive)

Cooper is back at Wembley 12 months after his Swansea side were beaten by Brentford in last season’s final, which was played behind closed doors.

The 42-year-old insists that Sunday’s match is not about redemption for him.

“This is different, a different football club, it is not about me or any individual,” he said.

“This football club is a lot greater than that. We go there as a united football club who are really proud of who we are and what we are doing.

“That is what we will be on Sunday.

“The only thing about going back is that it’s exciting and a real honour.

“It will be a privilege to be part of the game at Wembley, that is the only feeling I have really. I don’t think about the personal stuff, I think about the club.

“It is about real togetherness going down there and hoping to do the best we can to make the city proud.”

Forest’s journey to Wembley is an unlikely one, given they were at the bottom of the league when Cooper took over from Chris Hughton in September.

He admits his initial target was to get the club out of the relegation zone, but always strived for higher climes.

“I always had the mindset of aiming for the maximum. It has been an exhausting but exciting season”
- Steve Cooper

“I can’t say I thought from the start we would have ended up where we did,” he said.

“But there was only seven games gone in the season. There was still a huge amount of the season to play from when we started. The objective was a little bit different, to get out of the relegation zone and climb up the league.

“I always had the mindset of aiming for the maximum. We always strived to do that but we have taken it step by step. It has been an exhausting but exciting season.”

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