BURTON Albion's longest-serving manager has paid tribute to Ben Robinson as the club chairman celebrates his 70th birthday.
Nigel Clough was appointed by Ben in 1998 and together they took the Brewers from the Unibond League to the Football League over the next decade.
Nigel, who has gone on to manage Derby County and Sheffield United said: "It's fitting that the chairman reaches this landmark as the club sits at the top of League One. That may have seemed a distant dream all those years ago, but is a tribute to the way the chairman has run the club.
"Burton Albion has become a very good role model for other clubs in terms of how they can make progress."
Ben not only gave Nigel his first manager's role but has also given key career breaks to the likes of Neil Warnock, Gary Rowett and now Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Nigel says: "He has a very good record. It's as much about his instincts as anything as he has put a few managers in there without much experience at all. He lets them get on with it and gives them the support when they need it. He's an exceptional chairman.
"He gives you the space. He tells you what you have to play with, how it's going to work and then lets you get on and do it.
"I remember after a couple of years in the job I told him, 'We will try and get promoted this year', and he just replied, 'Well if we don't we will have another go next year'. That was a lovely way of looking at it. It's not the boom and bust of so many clubs; he doesn't go in for that philosophy. It's about steadily improving each year."
Ben's connections with Burton Albion date back 40 years and under his chairmanship the club has risen from the second tier of non-league football to the summit of League One.
It was his vision that saw Albion relocate from Eton Park to the Pirelli Stadium 10 years ago and his sound financial judgement has seen the club flourish and grow.
The Brewers joined the Football League in 2009 and were promoted to League One at the end of last season.
Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey also paid tribute to Ben.
He says: "Burton Albion is very lucky to have a chairman such as Ben with the way he has led the club over such a long time.
"I first met Ben at an FA Cup tie at Bradford City many seasons ago and it was obvious then that he had an absolute determination to get Burton into the Football League.
"Football would be far stronger if there were more Ben Robinsons."
It was the 1974/75 season when Ben first got involved with the club. Back then, the Brewers opened the season at home to Stourbridge in front of a few hundred fans. Next home game they play Sheffield United in League One.
It was a friend, Jeff Salt, an Albion director and local businessman who asked Ben to help out over a Christmas lunch. So, in February, 1975, he joined the board.
In 1976, he was invited to become chairman and agreed to do it for “a few months”. That short term commitment lasted until 1984.
He stood down as chairman in order to spend more time on his insurance business, but kept his links with the club and his shares over the next ten years.
In June, 1995, Ben was asked to be chairman to help the club through a financial crises and since he stepped back in Burton Albion have never looked back, enjoying 20 years of success and steady growth.