David Langan is a man with many interesting tales to tell from his playing days.
The 63-year-old made his name as marauding right-back for Derby in the late 1970s.
He moved to the Baseball Ground as a youngster under Brian Clough, joining from Cherry Orchard in Ireland, and the defender became a firm favourite with the Rams’ supporters.
He made more than 150 appearances in a Derby shirt and claimed the Jack Stamps Player of the Year award in the 1977/78 season, before leaving for Birmingham City in 1980.
From learning the values of life under Brian Clough to becoming an established regular at the Baseball Ground, he has nothing but happy memories of his time at the club.
He told dcfc.co.uk back in 2016: “I came over to England when I was 16; Brian Clough signed me as an apprentice and things went from there.
“Brian was strict but at the same time very good for me because I was taught the values of life.
“As an apprentice you had to clean the boots, toilets and tidy up and, without fail, he used to send my mum a bunch of flowers every Christmas.
“It’s a shame that players don’t do those jobs anymore because it was a real learning curve for me, starting off at the bottom and working my way to the top.”
Langan’s debut in professional football came in February 1977, just under two years after Derby’s title triumph under Dave Mackay.
Under the management of Colin Murphy, Langan was thrown into the side during a 1-0 home loss to Leeds United.
He then started the Rams’ remaining 20 games of the season, which included a staggering nine games in April.
Admitting to be a player that suffered from nerves, Langan highlights Roy McFarland and Colin Todd as key influences.
He recalled: “To be honest it was a game that nearly wasn’t played.
“It threw it down the day before and it was only at around 10:30am on the day that the pitch was passed fit. Colin Murphy pulled me to one side and told me that I was playing.
“I didn’t get much time to be nervous; Roy McFarland and Colin Todd were a big help to me. I was just lad from Ireland and I couldn’t believe I was on the same pitch as them; they were superstars in those days.”
He added: “I was one of those players that got nervous before games; I used to have to go to the toilet a few times! Toddy used to have a small brandy before games and suggested I did it. After that I did it for the rest of my career to settle the nerves.”
One of the highlights for Langan was being named as the Rams’ Player of the Year.
Appearing in all 42 league games, as well as Derby’s five matches in cup competitions, Langan was a model of consistency.
Pipping the charismatic Charlie George to the accolade was a huge achievement.
He said: “In 1977/78 I won Player of the Year which was a total shock to me.
“I think it was something like half an hour beforehand I was told I had won.
“I couldn’t believe it and my speech was rubbish and to beat Charlie George to the accolade was something really special.”
Following Derby’s relegation from the First Division in 1980, Langan moved on to pastures new as the Rams had to cut their cloth accordingly.
He admits he didn’t want to part company with Derby, but knew it was time to move on as Birmingham, then managed by Jim Smith, paid a then club-record fee for his services.
He said: “I didn’t really want to go. Colin Addison pulled me into the office and said that, after getting an approach for Birmingham, I could go and talk to them. I loved playing at Derby, but it was time to go.
“Jim Smith was in charge at Birmingham and I had a great time there. I also had 18 months out due to injury and I was let go after that.”
He later went on to play under Jim Smith at Oxford, where he was part of their Second Division promotion-winning side in 1984/85, as well as winning the Milk Cup the following year.
Recalling playing under the Bald Eagle, who took Derby to the Premiership in 1995/96, he said: “I had a few roastings from Jim, more than anyone else, and he used to give me some after I had a bad game!
“However, after the match, he would never let it carry on and offer you a drink.”
Langan was capped 26 times by the Republic of Ireland, winning his first whilst with Derby in 1978.
A proud Irishman, playing for his country was the pinnacle of his career and gave him the chance to come up against Diego Maradona.
He said: “To play for the Republic of Ireland was a dream. The hairs on the back of my neck used to stand up and I had some unreal games at Landsdown Road.
“The main one that stands out was playing against Argentina and Diego Maradona.
“I was a bit lucky, the grass was quite long because there was due to be a rugby match played there soon afterwards – so he couldn’t get away from me!
“I had never played against anyone in my life like him. He was an unbelievable player; I remember him controlling a pass on the wing and then volleying it over to the other one!
“I tried to steam into him early on and let him know he was in for a tough game - and he just stared at me with the expression like ‘is that the best you’ve got?’. He ran the show.”
In 2012, Langan – who sadly suffers from knee and back problems - launched his autobiography, titled ‘Running Through Walls’.