John Prescott McGovern (born 28 October 1949 in Montrose) is a Scottish former association footballer and manager. As a midfielder, McGovern is most famous for captaining the Nottingham Forest side that won the European Cup twice under the management of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor.
At the age of 19 he became the youngest player to play in all four divisions of the Football League. During his playing career he won promotion with Hartlepools United, Derby County and Nottingham Forest. He won titles as English League champions with both Derby and Forest. At Forest he also won two League Cups.
McGovern won two Scottish under-23 caps, and was to go on a play over 500 league games during his career. He forged a long-lasting relationship with Clough and Taylor at Hartlepools, Derby, Leeds and Forest.
McGovern was born in Montrose, Angus, in north east Scotland. He began his senior career in English football's fourth tier with Hartlepools United (as the club were still named at that time). His senior debut was in season 1965/66. Under the management of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor he became a first team regular the season after. In 1967/68 Hartlepool finished third earning promotion to the Third Division. After playing six games in the 1968/69 season he moved up a division by transferring to Derby County.
Clough signed McGovern to Derby for a fee of £7,500 in September 1968. By January 1969 he had established himself in the Derby side that won promotion to the First Division at the end of his first season there.
In 1971–72 Derby won the First Division title, and McGovern played in virtually all of their matches. His final match for Derby came in February 1974.
He moved to Leeds United in August 1974 in Clough's ill-fated short reign there.
In January 1975 he signed for Clough again this time at Second Division side Nottingham Forest. Forest were promoted to the top flight at the end of his first full season there, 1976/77.
McGovern captained Forest to two successive European Cups.
He and Ken McNaught are the only two Scottish players to win Europe's premier club trophy to never have gained a full international cap.
McGovern joined Bolton Wanderers as player-manager in July 1982, and remained there until January 1985. He made a total of 16 League appearances for Bolton before moving to Horwich RMI.
He was later assistant manager of Chorley and Plymouth Argyle before being appointed joint manager of Rotherham United alongside Archie Gemmill in 1994. He left Rotherham two years later and was subsequently hired as manager of Woking and had a spell as assistant at Hull City before joining Ilkeston Town to replace Keith Alexander as manager in November 2000. He was sacked by the club in March of the following year after an eight-game winless run.
A profile of the young McGovern on Sporting Heroes states, "John's ability to do the simple things well, allied to his work ethic and willingness to act as a man marker saw him return a series of solid displays; often against much older and experienced opponents."
The same article closes by stating of his time at Derby, "He scored twenty goals and at his best demonstrated ball control and passing skills of the highest level, a talent that frequently allowed others to shine."Derby County
First Division: 1971–72
First Division: 1977–78
League Cup: 1977-78, 1978-79
Anglo-Scottish Cup: 1976-77
FA Charity Shield: 1978
European Cup: 1978-79, 1979-80
European Super Cup: 1979