Boy done Gued

by Dan Mounser

After helping Holland to the quarter finals of the 1994 World Cup in the USA, Dutch forward Bryan Roy took the number 22 shirt and swapped life at Foggia in Italy for the banks of the River Trent and Nottingham Forest.

His immediate impact and partnership with Stan Collymore helped propel the Reds to a third place finish in the Premier League therefore bringing European football back to the City Ground for the first time since the Brian Clough era (albeit the UEFA Cup as they were the days when third place wouldn’t ensure Champions League qualification for younger readers!)

Nottingham Forest 1 Leeds Utd 2 (Aug 2007)

The City Ground, Nottingham

It might not feel as exciting or as important as finishing just behind Champions Blackburn and runners-up Manchester United in the top tier of English football, but last season the number 22 shirt was again instrumental, this time in helping the Reds survive in the Championship and preventing another drop to League One.

It was an Algerian international midfielder going by the name of Adlene Guedioura.

Determination

It might not be a name that is necessarily known outside of Nottingham and Wolverhampton but the 26-year-old’s passing ability, drive and determination simply gave the team an extra dimension. Most importantly, he had a willingness for the ball. A valuable trait when you are struggling in the lower reaches of the division and at a time when not only goals, but results, had not been going in Forest’s favour.

It’s obviously a team game but his freshness and Premier League quality was a major factor in the Reds doing just enough to stay up along with the pace and goal scoring of Garath McCleary and the return to fitness of Dexter Blackstock.

Guedioura, or ‘Pep’ as he is now affectionately known by the Forest faithful after former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola who has a similar surname, certainly had a huge hand in it and also managed to scoop the unique accolade of winning ‘Goal of the Year’ for two clubs in the same season.

Wonder Strike

His 30-yard wonder strike during the Reds’ 7-3 demolition of Leeds United at Elland Road in March nailed it in Nottingham and an equally good strike won it in Wolverhampton for his goal against Millwall in their 5-0 Carling Cup win back in September.

With a summer of uncertainty behind the scenes at the City Ground and also with his parent club being relegated from the Premier League, many fans feared that he would not be returning after his successful loan spell ended.

But after the Al-Hasawi takeover and lots of love from fans asking him to come back on social networking side Twitter, new manager Sean O’Driscoll made him the first piece of the Kuwaiti revolution jigsaw for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of £1m.

This season, Guedioura has opted for the number 7 shirt. He might not be as iconic as David Beckham, George Best or Eric Cantona yet but he can potentially be as fondly remembered by Forest fans in years to come but in the Garibaldi Red instead.

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