Colin Todd is widely regarded as one of the best footballers the region has produced. He started his playing career at Sunderland and his managerial career has taken in Middlesbrough. Chief Football Writer Paul Fraser spoke to him at the launch of his new book.

DURING his days as a rising talent with the Sunderland youth team, Colin Todd had the privilege of experiencing the untested managerial skills of Brian Clough.

After Clough had taken those tentative steps when his playing career was curtailed by injury, he went on to become a household figure at Derby County and Nottingham Forest, where he delivered league titles and European success.

Todd, having impressed during five years as a teenager at Roker Park, was part of those glorious days with Derby, claiming two (old) Division One crowns and claiming a PFA Players’ Player of the Year. He pins most of his personal glory on the late Clough.

And it is his knowledge of Clough’s methods that have left Todd in no doubt that Roy Keane is another whose leadership technique has been influenced by his mentor’s ways.

During Keane’s first two years on Wearside, he has repeatedly outlined his determination to keep the players and their families happy, by offering them everything they require to help them settle at the Stadium of Light.

That is just one aspect of Clough’s own managerial style that the Irishman has clearly adopted since taking his first steps into the management game with Sunderland little over two years ago.

Given how Keane has kept the Black Cats in the topflight for successive seasons, after delivering an unlikely Championship title 12 months ago, his reputation has risen to new levels.

Although Keane and Clough’s paths into management were completely different, Todd understands why there are comparisons being drawn.

“There are certain memories of Brian Clough’s style that you still have with you,”

said Todd. “Whether it is the man management, the coaching or whatever. He knew how to treat players and I would like to think I have taken some of that into the way I manage and I’m certain Roy Keane will have done the same.

“I’m sure Roy Keane has taken some bits from Brian Clough and some bits from Sir Alex Ferguson. Those two guys are two of the best managers in the world to have worked under.

“Roy seems to be a clever man and he will have tuned into that. The coaching methods have changed over the years but you still have to manage, you still have to look after players.”

Having been given the opportunity to take over at Sunderland, Keane was handed the chance to lead one of the country’s biggest clubs without the grounding of testing the water in the lower leagues first.

The Irishman has made a host of summer signings as he attempts to turn Sunderland into a top ten side next season.

“Everyone has respect for Roy Keane and what he has done at Sunderland,”

said Todd, who played more than 750 games at the highest level and claimed 27 caps for England before retiring in 1984.

“To have got Sunderland up in his first season, when they were right at the bottom of the Championship, was a fantastic achievement.

He’s still learning, even I’m still learning and I’m 59.

“I’m not sure how long it will take for Sunderland to get into the top six, they have to take it step by step.

But I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t be looking at success in the League Cup or the FA Cup.”

Born in Chester-le-Street as the latest addition to a family of six in a miner’s house, Todd was taken to a Newcastle United match by his father but it was Sunderland where he started his career, making 191 appearances during five years after his debut in 1966.

Twenty-four years later, after a successful career spanning eight clubs, he succeeded Bruce Rioch as manager of Middlesbrough in 1990. He had been working as Rioch’s assistant after bumping into the Scot at a Hartlepool United match in 1986.

With connections to all three clubs, Todd is relieved to see all three in the Premier League again this season.

“All three survived and all of those clubs should have no problem surviving,”

said Todd.

“Survival is an over-used word in football these days, survival is like when I was at Middlesbrough with Bruce and we didn’t know whether we were going to start the season.”

With Middlesbrough on the brink of liquidation, highlighted by the need for them to play a home match against Port Vale at Hartlepool’s Victoria Ground, there was every chance that Boro could have gone out of existence.

Todd also hit problems during his days with Bradford.

After succeeding Bryan Robson in the summer of 2004, he led City to several mid-table finishes despite struggling to bring in new faces because of a cash shortage at Valley Parade after two spells in administration.

When he was sacked, after winning just one from ten matches in February 2007, many believed he would struggled to work his way back into management. He was given an opportunity in Denmark to take charge of little known Randers FC a few months later.

“I’m going to be loyal, I have another year left on my contract and I have just led them to their highest ever placing in the Danish Superligaen,”

said Todd, who was recommended to Randers by one of his former Bolton stars, Per Frandsen.

“That is progress in Denmark for a club like us.

“The standard is getting better in Denmark and I’m really enjoying it, but one day I would like to get back into managing a club with a greater fan base.”

■ Colin Todd was talking at the launch of his book, Toddy: The Colin Todd Story. Published by Breedon Books, available for £16.99.