But what about those players who slipped through the net? We’ve tracked down a team of Nottingham-born footballers who never got the chance to represent either Forest, County or the Stags but found success elsewhere in recent history.
As to whether or not they are better than the players our county’s clubs have had on their books over the years, we’ll leave that up to you…
1. Bill Glazier
Our team’s veteran goalkeeper is one of Coventry City’s all-time greats. By now he may be a bit old to play alongside our current set of ‘ones that got away’, but in the Sixties and early Seventies he made over 300 appearances for the Sky Blues in a stellar career.
2. Simon Francis
Young full-back Simon Francis began his professional career with Bradford having been rejected by Notts County. He played over 50 games for the Bantams, as well as establishing himself in the England U19s side. He was signed by Sheffield United in 2004 for £200,000, beating off competition from Sunderland. Despite making only half a dozen appearances for the Blades so far he is very highly thought of by manager Neil Warnock.
3. Julian Bennett
19-year-old Julian has quickly established himself as regular part of Paul Merson’s Walsall side, playing in all but one of their league games this season, helping himself to a couple of goals along the way. Although primarily a central defender, Julian has been filling in at left-back a great deal. He made his first team debut replacing another member of our team, Matt Carbon.
4. Nigel Pearson (C)
Nigel began his career with Heanor Town as a teenager before Shrewsbury Town snapped up the defender. His big move came in 1987 when he was signed by Sheffield Wednesday and he notched up over 200 appearances for the Owls, despite suffering injury problems. He had just turned 31 when Bryan Robson bought him for Middlesbrough in a £750,000 deal. He captained the side and was an indispensable part of the Boro defence as they won promotion then surprised everybody by finishing 6th in the Premiership and reaching two major cup finals. He retired in 1998 and is now involved in the England coaching set-up.
5. Matt Carbon
Nottingham lad Matt Carbon looked to Lincoln to start his career, before joining Derby County in 1996. However, it was with West Brom that had the most successful period of his career to date, notching up 117 starts in defence for the Baggies. In 2001 he moved to local rivals Walsall on a free transfer, but currently plays for Paul Hart’s Barnsley side.
6. Tom Huddlestone
Despite being a Nottingham lad, Tom Huddlestone joined Derby County’s academy at the age of 12. Just four years later he was in the first team and putting in impressive performances. The 18-year-old defensive midfielder was recently rewarded when Tottenham Hotspur agreed to buy him for a £1m fee at the end of the season.
7. Steve Robinson
Steve joined Birmingham City as a trainee in 1993 and was a bit-part player for eight seasons until he was sold to Swindon in February 2001 for £50,000. Known as ‘Turbo’ to Robins fans, Steve has been a regular fixture in the first team since joining although goals have less forthcoming – he has scored just five in nearly 150 appearances.
8. John Fraser
Despite his Scottish-sounding name, John Fraser was born in Nottingham, although he has played most of his football north of the border. The 26-year-old midfielder has had spells with Dunfermline, Ross County, Clyde and is currently playing for Stranraer in the Scottish Second Division.
9. Andrew Cole
One of the most famous ‘ones that got away’, Andy Cole (or Andrew, as he now likes to be known) was rejected by Forest as a youngster so signed for Arsenal. However, it wasn’t until he moved to Newcastle in 1993 that things started going well for him. After scoring bagfuls of goals and breaking into the England team, he was signed by Manchester United for £6m where he won five championships, two FA Cups and the Champions League in 1999. He then moved to Blackburn Rovers and now plays for Fulham.
10. Chris Sutton
Chris will perhaps be remembered as playing in the shadow of Alan Shearer during Blackburn Rover’s championship season, but he has plenty of claims to fame himself. He became the first £5m player when he moved from Norwich City to Ewood Park in 1994. After scoring over 60 goals for Blackburn, his value was then doubled as he joined Chelsea in 1999. But his stint at Stamford Bridge was not the most enjoyable as he was sold to Celtic one year later for £6m having scored just three goals for the Blues. The move north of the border allowed him to get back on form with more than 80 goals in four seasons, even if he was once again playing second fiddle to a legendary striker, this time Henrik Larson.
11. Trevor Morley
Completing our three-pronged attack, Trevor Morley played for Northampton and Man City in the Eighties, although his best time was undoubtedly six years with West Ham where he notched up over 200 appearances and 70 goals and became Player of the Year in 1994. So fondly remembered by Hammers fans is Morley that he has been paid the great cockney honour and become rhyming slang for ‘poorly’.
12. Jon Richardson – Defender who spent six season with Exeter City before joining Oxford. Although he never played for Nottingham Forest, he does currently line-up for Forest Green.
13. Jimmy Walker – Walsall’s long-serving goalkeeper failed to win a contract at Notts County before spending nine years at the Bescott. He recently joined West Ham to become Stephen Bywater’s back-up.
14. Luke Webb – Neil Webb’s son is currently on the books of Manchester United’s youth team and pushing for a place on the left wing.
15. Leon Best – Promising forward formerly of Notts County but snapped up by Southampton before he had chance to make an appearance for the Pies.
16. Martin Carruthers – Experienced Nottingham-born forward who has managed to avoid playing for any of the county’s teams despite spells at nearby Peterborough, Stoke, Boston and most-recently Lincoln City.