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Colin Todd - A life in football

By Katie Gornall and Matt Newsum

Colin Todd
Todd has managed Middlesbrough as well as played for Sunderland

Born into a mining family in Chester-le-Street, former England footballer Colin Todd knows all about life in the North East.

As a boy he was a Newcastle fan, as a man a Sunderland player, and then later a Middlesbrough manager - Todd has a link with the three major clubs in the North East.

Ironically he could have played for his boyhood heroes but decided to move to Roker Park.

"I could have signed for Newcastle, I could have signed for Middlesbrough, but it was the Red and Whites I chose because of their tradition for youth," Todd told BBC Radio Newcastle.

"I used to come and watch Sunderland now and again but it was the old man who used to pull me the other way."

It was at Sunderland that Todd came across a fellow North East character who would help shape his career - Brian Clough.

Having signed for Clough's Derby side for 170,000, Todd went onto represent England and enjoyed a glittering career in the top flight.

"My career kicked off on another level. It was Brian Clough who was my youth team coach at Sunderland who signed me [for Derby County] and had followed my progress," he said.

"Clough has been a major influence on my career, as a youth team coach. He must have seen something in me and took me to Derby."

Todd has a unique insight into the way Clough's personality developed, having worked with him at Sunderland, Derby and then later in his career at Nottingham Forest.

"He always had a lot of confidence in himself, as a player, and he made that progress from Sunderland to Hartlepool," said Todd.

Colin Todd with Brian Clough
Clough (right) gave Todd his big break at Derby

"They were always fighting for re-election, but he got them almost to promotion, or maybe even promotion.

"Once you know Brian, he doesn't change, he just gets louder."

For Todd those experiences helped him when it came to playing, and when he made the step up to management.

"It's fair to say that every manager you've worked under, you'll take a little bit out of them," he said.

"You learn from people like Clough, and I'm sure Roy Keane under [Sir Alex] Ferguson and Brian Clough has taken little bits out of what they've done, but you've got to be your own man as well."

As assistant to Bruce Rioch, his former defensive partner at Derby, Todd helped preside over one of Middlesbrough's most traumatic periods - when the club went into liquidation in 1986.

There's clubs in the Premier League that can't win the title, it's impossible

Colin Todd

"I wouldn't say it was difficult, but it was uncertain. The one thing was we stuck together, we stuck it out and enjoyed it - and we came out on top," he said.

"We had a very good side, we had some good players - Gary Pallister, Colin Cooper and Tony Mowbray - who all went on to better things."

After Rioch's departure Todd took over the club as manager himself, and admits he has sympathy for managers like Keane and Gareth Southgate who compete in the cauldron of modern football.

"What has happened now is that people are just scathing all the time. There's a word that isn't used in football. Directors and supporters have to be patient but they never are," he said.

"There's clubs in the Premier League that can't win the title, it's impossible, but if you finish fourth bottom it is called a success now for teams.

"And why is it a success? People talk about 30m or 60m and it means that much to stay in the Premier League."

see also
Exodus led to relegation - Todd
06 Jun 07 |  Bradford
Todd hits back after Bradford axe
13 Feb 07 |  Bradford
Were you there...
26 Jan 07 |  FA Cup
Todd's topsy-turvy career
14 Jan 02 |  Derby County
Derby appoint Todd
25 Oct 00 |  Derby County

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