Born and bred in Wales, Alan Durban began his playing career at Cardiff City before playing a key role in Derby County’s success under Brian Clough.
Durban, who is now 79, starred for Derby as they won the Second Division Championship in 1968/69 – before going on to lift the First Division title a few years later in 1971/72.
Initially signed by Tim Ward, the midfielder progressed to another level under Brian Clough and he went on to make over 400 appearances for the Rams over a 10-year period.
Capped 27 times by Wales, Durban rounded off his playing career at Shrewsbury Town before moving into management in the mid-1970s.
He managed Shrewsbury, Stoke City, Sunderland and Cardiff, as well as having a spell as Roy McFarland’s assistant manager back at Derby, before moving into scouting and youth football work.
Turning back the clock to the start of his career as a youngster at Cardiff, Durban recalls his time with the Bluebirds as a real learning curve which stood him in good stead for the rest of his career.
He told RamsTV Meets: “The club as full of Welsh internationals and I think as a result I learned my trade much quicker. I hadn’t done my apprenticeship with them like some others had done, but I learned really quickly.
“Most of my early time there was spent learning the game and get ready physically. That took me a while to be honest.
“I played in the third team for a year in the Welsh league and that was tough in terms of playing against a lot of ex-professionals. I had to learn to get rid of the ball quick enough, or you would get clobbered! That stood me in good stead.
“I was in and out of the team at Cardiff, I played 60 games or so in about five years. I played with Ivor Allchurch for two seasons; him and John Charles were the two best Welsh players. It was a learning curve.”
Durban joined Derby in 1963 and admits to having an affinity with the club from the start of his career, having made his professional debut against the Rams in 1959.
He joined the Rams for just £10,000 and admits that Derby being a ‘footballing area’ convinced him to move to the Baseball Ground.
He said: “My first game funnily enough was at Derby. I had been at the club for about a year and it was a dry start to the season.
“A lot of players weren’t fit because they had blisters, would you believe. I played and we won the game 2-1 – so you could say I always had an affinity with Derby from the very start.
“One of the reasons I came to Derby was because Cardiff wanted to buy John Charles back from Italy, he was at Roma at the time.
“They put everyone on the transfer list apart from Ivor Allchurch who was 35 anyway. Three of us got sold for £10,000 each I think and they got John Charles for £30,000.
“One of the things that attracted me to Derby was that it was a real football area. I could walk down the street in Cardiff, having played on the Saturday and we were in the top league, and no-one would knew who I was. When I was in Derby and I was playing every week, you just knew it was a football city.”
Signed before Brian Clough’s arrival in 1967, Durban excelled under the legendary manager.
Impressed by the managerial duo of Clough and Peter Taylor, Durban admits Derby’s fortunes under the pair were remarkable.
He also believes another key element to the Rams’ success was the signing of a born winner in Dave Mackay.
“When Cloughie walked in and with the people that he bought, it was obvious that both he and Peter Taylor knew what they were doing and they were a great combination,” he said.
“In 1968/69 it all started to come together, and the final and biggest piece of the jigsaw was Dave Mackay. He was a born winner and had enjoyed success in Scotland.
“I had played against him and knew how good he was from when I was at Cardiff. He lifted the whole standard of training and approach to the games. He taught those that were not perhaps the greatest of winners to be winners.
“It was a remarkable turnaround and without a shadow of a doubt it was the quality of players that he brought that really took us on.
“We had one or two that came from the lower regions of the club and had been around a while, but it’s worth nothing that it wasn’t until Colin Todd came in that he really spent big money, to replace Dave Mackay.”
As well as playing over 400 games for Derby in his career, he also scored 112 times and sits joint-sixth in the club’s all-time goalscorers’ chart.
Want to hear more from Alan Durban? Watch his exclusive RamsTV Meets interview in the videos embedded within this article.