Barbara Clough says she's delighted that the international sculptor Les Johnson has been chosen to create the bronze statue of her husband, Brian, in Nottingham city centre. Mrs Clough is pictured, above, with one of Mr Johnson's submissions which shows the type of pose for the statue.

A selection panel including Mrs Clough agreed unanimously that the prestigious commission should be awarded to Mr Johnson. He was one of three artists short-listed after a group of fans raised 70,000 for the project.

Les Johnson was also the most popular choice in a public consultation which involved an exhibition at the Council House and views submitted by e-mail to this website. The two other short-listed sculptors were Keith Maddison from Northumberland and John McKenna from Ayreshire in Scotland. Each artist gave a presentation to the panel.

Mrs Clough & panel members

Mrs Clough is pictured above with the chairman of the statue fund and selection panel, Paul Ellis (left), and Councillor David Trimble who was also on the panel. She was accompanied at the meeting by her son Simon and daughter Elizabeth. Her son Nigel had visited the display at the Council House to see the work submitted by the three artists.

Mrs Clough told this website: "It was a very difficult decision because the submissions by all three sculptors were impressive. Id like to thank all three artists for taking part in the selection process.

"I am absolutely delighted that the panel all agreed that Les Johnson should be awarded the commission. There is something very instinctive about his work and I feel confident he can produce a first class statue. I was very impressed by the likeness of the bust he created - it captures a lot of Brian's character. I also liked the pose with Brian's hands clasped above his head. It conveys a sense of sharing a celebration with the fans.

Mrs Clough added that she was very pleased about where the statue would be placed, at the junction of King Street and Queen Street. "I think the location of the statue is very fitting, being close to the market square and the Council House, the scene of those trophy celebrations.

"I would also like to say a special thank you to the volunteers who helped to raise the money for the statue fund. On behalf of all my family I can say we are all very proud." Mrs Clough said she was also happy to advise Les Johnson on re-creating the facial features on the final statue, as she did for the sculptor Vivien Mallock for the statue of Mr Clough in Middlesbrough.

Les Johnson, who is 58 and based in Hampshire, said he was delighted to have secured the commission. "This is a most prestigious project," he said. "Brian Clough is such an iconic figure. He was unique and deserves to be commemorated. I am so pleased to be involved in celebrating his life."

Les Johnson & models

Les is a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. He explained his inspiration for the pose of the statue. "It is one of celebration. He is acknowledging the crowd - saying we have done it together. It symbolises his links with the city. Nottingham has done a lot for him and he has done a lot for Nottingham."

The city council's spokesman for Communities, Leisure and Culture, Councillor David Trimble, said: "Les Johnson's work was by far the best quality, particularly the animation in the maquette and the finesse of the detail of the eyes in the bust, bringing out that cheekiness.

"The success of the statue fund in raising the money for this project has underlined just how loved and admired Brian Clough was. He was made a Freeman of the City and this statue will be a lasting tribute to the achievements of a legend who, along with Robin Hood, is undoubtedly one of the most famous people associated with Nottingham."

The three artists were asked to submit a portrait bust, to show how they would re-create the facial features of the Master Manager, and a miniature statue (maquette) to show the type of pose.

Bust by Les Johnson

Maquette by Les Johnson

The chairman of the statue fund and selection panel, Paul Ellis, said he was pleased the decision to select Les Johnson was a unanimous one. "The decision was not easy, but we all felt that Les Johnson is the artist who will produce an excellent statue in tribute to Brian Clough.

"We are hoping the statue in Nottingham will be ready later this year, but we will give Les as much time as he needs. This statue will be there for generations to come and the most important thing is to get it right."

The Brian Clough Statue Fund (Nottingham) was launched in June 2005 by a small group of volunteers. It smashed through the 60,000 target in just 18 months. Money was raised in various ways, including the sale of tribute badges and replica green sweatshirts. On-line auctions for special pieces of memorablia also raised cash. A gala dinner, attended by members of the Clough family and several Nottingham Forest legends, raised 9,000. Forest and the city council each donated 5,000 to take the total to over 69,000. With interest added, the volunteers handed-over a cheque for 70,000 to the city council, which is commissioning the statue.

Top photo & Les Johnson photo, copyright youngman; other photo's copyright Neil Hoyle.

Watch a BBC report about the statue design announcement HERE.