safc.com chats with European Cup winner.
John O’Hare started his footballing career with Sunderland, his boyhood club, in 1964 and played 59 times in his three years on Wearside.
One of the great players to be produced by the club, O’Hare is remembered for his spells with Derby County and Nottingham Forest under former Sunderland player Brian Clough.
O’Hare went on to win the European Cup in his time at Forest whilst also winning two championships in his time at Derby, though he says Sunderland will always be his team.
The passion of the fans was immense; the supporters were second to none, so much passion for the game and as young players that was incredible
- John O'Hare
“They [Sunderland] are still my favourites; they always have been ever since I was growing up there,” he explained.
“I probably left a bit earlier than I would have liked but in the end it was the right time to go and I loved my time at Derby as it was the peak of my career.”
And O’Hare told safc.com that Sunderland is still the first-team he looks out for and he revelled in last weekend’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle United.
“I was actually away in Mallorca for the game,” he added.
“They played really well and if they can build on the win, they’ll make good progress.”
During his time with the Black Cats, O’Hare scored 21 times in 59 games, forming a great partnership with Neil Martin.
And O’Hare says playing in a team of legends, including Charlie Hurley and George Herd, was a fine learning curve for him in his colourful career.
“Neil [Martin] was more of a centre-forward where I was more of an inside-forward until Brian Clough converted me into a target man at Derby.
“I was playing in a team with George Herd and Charlie Hurley, real legends and gentlemen at the same time.
“The passion of the fans was immense; the supporters were second to none, so much passion for the game and as young players that was incredible.
One thing I would say about Roker Park is that it was always windy but it was still a wonderful place to play
- O'Hare on RP
“One thing I would say about Roker Park is that it was always windy but it was still a wonderful place to play.”
O’Hare left Sunderland for Derby under the stewardship of Clough and he played his part in the Rams’ remarkable rise up the footballing pyramid.
And, after a spell with Leeds United, O’Hare linked up with Clough for a third time at Forest and won the 1980 European Cup under a man he labels a ‘genius’.
“He [Brian Clough] was a player when I was a youth with Sunderland.
“In fact, he coached the youth team towards the end of his playing days when he was awaiting news on whether he would be able to play again.
“I knew him really well and always felt he would make a great manager, of course you never know for sure, but his knowledge and the unique difference he had was genius.
“He played the game simply, square pegs in square holes sort of football, it was an absolute pleasure to play for him.”
On winning the European Cup, O’Hare said he could never, in his wildest dreams, expected that moment.
“You don’t dream of it when you are young, you just want to be a footballer,” he added.
“I watched the Real Madrid team of the 60’s and I never, ever expected Nottingham Forest to even come close.”
After a colourful career, O’Hare decided to move away from football.
He was the licensee of a pub before going into insurance and then working at the Toyota plant on the outskirts of Derby.
“I had a pub for a year which was okay but it wasn’t really what I wanted to do in the end.
“I’ve sold insurance, worked at a snooker club, worked for Toyota, I’ve been a chauffeur and now I do corporate hospitality at Forest – I could write a book on all the jobs I’ve had.
“I struggle with walking after a new hip so I take things easy but I’m ticking over and I can say I have a good life.”