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Steve Cooper ready to ‘stand on the shoulders’ of Nottingham Forest giants

Steve Cooper was the first Nottingham Forest manager since Frank Clark to win promotion to the Premier League (Richard Sellers/PA)
Steve Cooper was the first Nottingham Forest manager since Frank Clark to win promotion to the Premier League (Richard Sellers/PA)

Steve Cooper is ready to stand on the shoulders of Nottingham Forest giants as his side prepare for their first Premier League home game in 23 years.

Cooper, who took over at Forest when they were bottom of the Sky Bet Championship, led a remarkable rise up the league to end their top-flight exile that began in 1999.

Many managers before him had felt the weight of history at the City Ground, constantly reminded of Brian Clough’s achievements in delivering back-to-back European Cups over 40 years ago.

But Cooper, who is preparing for Sunday’s visit of West Ham, has embraced Forest’s past and wants to use that as motivation to write their own history now they are back in the big time.

“The weight has never been on my shoulders,” he said. “We will always stand on their shoulders but we will do it really proudly and positive because it was built by them.

“I have really loved getting to understand it even more. I have enjoyed learning about it, I love meeting with the likes of John McGovern, Garry Birtles and Frank Clark.

“I had an amazing phone call with Nigel Clough in the summer. We are always looking to really understand the past because it motivates us to create a good future.

“We don’t want to fear the weight, it’s not weight it’s a pride.”

Because of Forest’s time away from the Premier League and the size of the club, a lot of neutrals were rooting for them to win promotion last season.

The goodwill is likely to carry on throughout this season and Cooper does not want to disappoint.

“I felt before the Bournemouth game last season there was a real willingness for us to do well and there seemed to be a lot of people behind us wanting us to win,” he said of an automatic-promotion decider his side lost.

“I felt like we became a promotion team and as it became more topical, it was like, ‘that’ll be good’ and if that is the case then great.

“But if that is the case we have to live up to it and – I say this in a positive way – but that is where my paranoia is. Nottingham Forest, whether we like it or not and it’s got nothing to do with me, it’s for a great history and a great name in England so now we are back in the Premier League and the spotlight is bigger.

“I just want us to be a good version of ourselves so we can make everyone proud.”