As Nottingham Forest enter their 10th consecutive season in the Championship, it seems an opportune time to look back at some of the best players to have played for the Reds from the last decade.
Many of Forest’s most valuable assets have left to play at a higher level (or to receive sizeable pay rises) however, here's a look back in celebration of talent that has graced the City Ground, rather than in frustration of what might have been.
1. Michail Antonio
Michael Antonio signed for Forest at the beginning of the 2014/15 season, joining for £1.5m from Sheffield Wednesday. Antonio’s impact at the club was instantaneous, scoring 14 goals in his first campaign and winning the Reds' Player of the Year in his debut season.
The midfielder scored several spectacular individual goals, as his pace and power regularly proved too much for Championship defences. His displays caught the eye of West Ham, with the Hammers signing Antonio for a bargain £8m.
Antonio adapted immediately to the Premier League and won Hammer of the Year at the end of the 2016/17 season. The midfielder recently received an England international call up and will be in contention to make England‘s 2018 World Cup squad.
2. Andy Reid
Sir Bobby Robson once claimed that if Andy Reid had replicated his performances playing in an Argentina shirt, the world would have been in awe of his ability. This is a statement only football purists (and Forest fans) could understand.
The Irishman was regularly taunted by rival fans and the media over his weight, undervaluing his all-round ability. Reid however possessed an exceptional left foot and despite the misguided view that he couldn't run, regularly left players of all levels trailing in his wake.
Reid’s technical skill exceeded the best of the best in the Championship, and Reds fans will view it a shame that the Irishman did not lead Forest at the highest level.
3. Rob Earnshaw
Rob Earnshaw’s reputation as a prolific goalscorer existed long before joining Forest for £2.65m in 2008. The striker had scored goals at all levels, but arrived in Nottingham following a stint at arch rivals Derby County, where he scored only once in 22 appearances.
However, Earnshaw excelled at the City Ground finishing as the Reds' top scorer in both the 2009/10 and 2010/11 campaigns. The Welshman’s movement in the final third, together with his pace and instinctive finishing, made him a cult figure at the City Ground.
Earnshaw helped guide Forest to two play-off appearances, but sadly the Reds were unable to reach the promised land.
4. Wes Morgan
For Forest fans, fewer more surreal moments exist than seeing Wes Morgan lift the Premier League trophy. Yet supporters cannot begrudge his move to Leicester City, as Morgan’s success with the Foxes has been nothing short of outstanding.
During his early years at Forest, the big defender was prone to error. But as Morgan matured, he became one of the standout defenders in the Championship, signing for Leicester midway through the 2011/2012 season.
Having made 352 appearances for the Reds, watching Morgan write himself into Premier League folklore no doubt hurts Forest fans. However, such was the defender’s commitment at the City Ground that his achievements must be respected.
5. Britt Assombalonga
In 2014 Forest broke their transfer record, signing Britt Assombalonga for £5m. Assombalonga immediately established himself as one of the most lethal strikers in the Championship, scoring 14 goals in his opening campaign.
Unfortunately, the player suffered a severe knee injury mid-way through his debut season, leaving him out for a year. The striker returned to fitness during the 2016/2017 campaign, and once again finished as the Reds top scorer.
Assombalonga’s powerful attacking play and return to form, however, attracted the interest of parachute-payment funded Middlesborough. Boro parted with a club-record £15m to sign Assombalonga, and will look to the Congolese forward to guide them back to the Premier League.
6. Chris Cohen
Forest have endured several ups and downs in the last decade, which is certainly an experience shared by Chris Cohen. The midfielder guided Forest to promotion from to the Championship in 2008, and went close to guiding the Reds into the Premier League but for play-off defeats at the end of the 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons.
Cohen has suffered 3 serious knee injuries over the last decade, but Forest’s captain has fought his way back each time. Cohen’s determination and effort is all too visible on and off the field, and the midfielder ended the 2016/17 campaign scoring an emotional goal on the final day of the season, saving Forest from relegation to League 1.