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Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

David Kelly relishes return to Newcastle with Forest

David Kelly
Kelly was appointed Forest assistant boss in January 2009

Nottingham Forest assistant boss David Kelly is relishing the chance to face Championship leaders Newcastle on Monday.

And as a former Magpies player, the game will be extra special for Kelly.

'Ned' scored well over 200 goals in a nomadic playing career that saw him cost in excess of £3million in total fees during his 19 years as a professional.

But undoubtedly one of the best periods of a goal-laden career that saw him represent the Republic of Ireland at the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States, was a two-year spell at Newcastle in the early 1990s.

"It's always nice coming up against your former teams," Kelly told BBC Radio Nottingham.

"It will be a super game, they are going well and the Geordie nation always bring a lot of supporters.

"My lad was born there so they are a club close to my heart. I've been very fortunate to play for some huge clubs."

But the Magpies did not seem like a huge club back in the early 1990s.

Kelly was signed by Ossie Ardiles in 1991 and crowds were only just in excess of 10,000 and the club were struggling at the foot of the second tier of English football.

The Argentine World Cup winner was sacked soon after Kelly arrived but the gloom was lifted when his the new manager was named.

"Kevin Keegan came in and said 'we are going to win the league'," said Kelly who enjoyed a hugely successful, but brief spell, under the new manager.

"I think we were third off the bottom of the old Second Division at the time and we thought he was a bit mad!

David Kelly
Age: 43
League clubs: Walsall, West Ham, Leicester, Newcastle, Wolves, Sunderland, Tranmere, Sheffield United, Motherwell, Mansfield
League games: 505 (95)
League goals: 192
International caps: 26
International goals: 9
Total fees: £3.15m

"But Kevin had a special way about him - he was an inspiring figure. He galvanised the city. He made people in the club again and made people believe in his vision for the club.

"Along with Sir John Hall [chairman] he pulled the club up from the depths of despair and got them very, very close to winning the Premier League."

In Kelly's only full season playing under Keegan, the Magpies swept all before them as they romped to the league title.

Kelly grabbed 35 league goals in 70 games during that time, including 25 goals in the title-winning season of 1992-93.

Newcastle may now be back in the second tier after suffering relegation last season but with an unbeaten record at St James' Park, they seem set for an immediate return to the Premier League.

Kelly, together with manager Billy Davies, have helped turn around Forest's fortunes this season. In the last campaign, they struggled to avoid an immediate return to League One.

But this season, they have pushed for automatic promotion to the top flight, thanks largely to a 19-match unbeaten run.

In the home dugout will be the former Forest manager Colin Calderwood, who guided the club into the Championship after three seasons in League One.

Calderwood told the Newcastle Chronicle: "Billy has done exceptionally well with the group of players, but he's also been able to add five or six at a very good level, which has certainly helped.

"The basis of that team is more or less the group that really struggled last year.

"You can see the difference with just a bit of experience at that level. They had a poor start to the season, and that group really dug deep on occasions, which is why they are where they are."

BBC Radio Nottingham will have full commentary on Newcastle v Forest on Monday 29 March, from 1800 GMT.



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