In 2008 a 21-year-old Garath McCleary was helping Nottingham Forest secure promotion from League One to the Championship. Now, 14 years down the line, the tricky forward is enjoying a renaissance with Wycombe and they’re on the promotion charge.

McCleary was plucked from non-league by Forest in a somewhat surprise deal. He joined from Bromley and the initial signs suggested he was an all-action winger who simply loved to take players on.

The talented player was on the bench as Forest defeated Yeovil on the final day of the 2007/08 campaign. He did score one goal and set up another in the run-in that saw the Reds win six of their last seven to claim second place.

Wycombe Wanderers v AFC Bournemouth - Sky Bet Championship
(Photo; Marc Atkins; Getty Images)

Forest made the fatal error of allowing McCleary to run his contract down. He made 123 appearances for the Reds, scoring 13 goals and claiming 13 assists.

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Following his City Ground exit, he joined Reading. There he got a taste of Premier League football, bagging 27 goals and claiming 46 assists from 270 appearances.

Now, he’s trying to rediscover himself at Wycombe and last night he was bang in form. The Chairboys thrashed Cambridge 4-1 and the 34-year-old rolled back the years.

He scored his ninth goal of the campaign, whilst he’s also got himself seven assists during 2021/22.

McCleary a small part of Forest folklore

In the context of the club’s substantial history, winning promotion from League One isn’t exactly near the top of Forest’s list of successes.

The class of 2007/08, however, did play some tremendous football and the amazing end to the season shouldn’t go without praise.

Cardiff City v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet Championship
Photo; Athena Pictures; Getty Images)

McCleary proved an important player towards the end of that campaign and he always gave his best when wearing the red of Forest.

It was a bit of a travesty that McCleary wasn’t kept at Forest all those years ago. He was an exciting youngster and perhaps the club should have done more.

The experienced performer helped Wycombe into the play-off places last night and McCleary will fancy another taste of promotion this season.

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