Martin O’Neill insists Nottingham Forest need to stop living in the past.

It is a criticism often levelled at the club, whose most successful spell in its history came between 1976 and 1980 under the legendary Brian Clough.

Almost 40 years on and O’Neill has returned to the City Ground as manager, having played for Forest for a decade during that trophy-laden spell which brought two league titles, including the First Division championship, two League Cups and two European Cups.

But 20 years have now passed since Forest played in the top division and O’Neill believes the club needs to write a new chapter in its illustrious history by getting back in the Premier League.

“It was in the top flight when I left and that’s where I want it to get back to,” said the Irishman.

“There are a number of clubs who feel they should be in the Premier League, but if you’re talking about real, real history, there are not many teams who have won two European Cups. This is a very special place.

“But we can’t live in the past. That phenomenal success we had as a player will be there forever more, that great history, but we want to try to carve some sort of niche now.

“If someone comes down here from Mars a hundred years from now all that will still be there, and that’s great. But you can’t keep going back to that forever. Generations move on, it’s two generations now since this club was in the Premier League and that’s a lengthy time in football.”

Since Forest were relegated in 1999, 16 other permanent managers have attempted – and failed – to get the Reds back in the top flight.

“At some stage Nottingham Forest are going to get back up and I would love to be the man to do it,” said O’Neill.

“It would be great, it would really be fantastic. I’ve taken it on and I want to live it every day.”

O’Neill, who has agreed an 18-month contract, revealed he has had opportunities to manage the club in the past.

“I have had a number of chances and each time I’ve not been sure about it being the right time,” he said.

“But one is never sure when the right time is and now there was a chance to do it and I may never get the chance to do it again, so I must make the most of it. I’m ready to go.

“You make decisions in your life and hope they turn out to be right.”