Harry Toffolo: Taking your chances, the ultimate professional and winning over Forest fan’s hearts.
Arriving from Huddersfield in July 2022, Harry Toffolo was seen by most as an add-on to Lewis O’Brien in a combined deal worth £10 million. But as time has passed, Toffolo has shown himself to be a true professional who can always be trusted when called upon. His attitude, desire to get forward, defensive contribution and passion-fuelled performances have made him a fan favourite at the City Ground.
When you get the opportunity
As mentioned before, when Toffolo signed for the Reds, most expected that he was signed so Forest could get exciting midfielder Lewis O’Brien and at best, he would be a player to push Omar Richards for that left-back spot. But football is a weird game; while Omar Richards was hit with an unfortunate and lasting injury, we saw Toffolo start the season for Forest and was involved in a couple of memorable matches, playing his part and putting in a string of solid displays down Trentside until he was dropped to allocate space for Brazilian international Renan Lodi who came in on a season-long loan.
While it took time for Lodi to settle and show Forest fans his true quality, Toffolo was always a dependable figure to call upon and regularly put a solid shift in. Despite being a reliable player who’s always prepared to put on the Garibaldi, Toffolo played less than one thousand minutes in the Premier League, making nine starts. In the January transfer window of this season, Toffolo was about to join Belgian side Anderlecht until Forest pulled the plug on the loan due to Omar Richards suffering a setback in his recovery from injury, which led to Harry Toffolo being required back at Forest as a backup, most players in a situation like this would (understandably) be furious around missing the chance for consistent game time, there was even a time where Anderlecht were debating sending a complaint against Forest saying the relevant paperwork was signed. But doing this would mean Toffolo would have to speak against Forest, which he would not want to do. Instead, the ex-Huddersfield star stayed professional throughout this situation, worked hard, and was prepared to play whenever necessary.
Moving onto this season, Forest had some massive boots to fill when Renan Lodi’s loan spell ended, and the fan favourite moved on to Europa League side Marseille. The left-back spot was always a key talking point between fans, and Forest was linked to several players, but the first summer signing for The Garibaldi was Nigerian international Ola Aina on a free transfer, who started the season on the left, which isn’t his favourable side, but he added a spark to the Forest team and was one of the first names on the team sheet. On deadline day, the left-back spot was strengthened with Arsenal defender Nuno Tavares coming in on deadline day. You may be thinking, with these names mentioned, when does Toffolo get his chance? And this is where Toffolo had to wait for his chance. Toffolo didn’t get a sniff of Premier League football until the first of October when Moussa Niakhate played left-back due to Ola Aina’s absence because of injury; the Senegalese got a red card on the hour mark, leading to Toffolo making his return, five minutes after coming on Toffolo made his impact pushing forward putting a first-time cross into the box connecting with Dominguez who scored his first goal in Garibaldi. This led to Toffolo starting four of the following five and coming on as a substitute in the other, getting two assists in a crucial victory against high-flying Aston Villa; this run of form has led to the defender rightfully getting praised by fans for his performances.
What’s next to come?
My opinion? Toffolo has proven himself enough times and deserves a good run of games; the Villa game perfectly showcased the player he is, the linkup between himself and Elanga, his desire to get back after an attack and his creativity going forward is what Forest needs and what fans love to watch. The name ‘Toffolo Soldier’ may come from Bob Marley’s song ‘Buffalo Soldier’, but it’s also perfect for describing our Toffolo.
Toffolo and Forest oddly remind me of Chris Cohen and Forest; both players signed as a “makeweight” for another player, but their hard work, passion for the club, willingness to give 100% and how they will come back strong after each set, back has made them into fan favourites and a role model for players coming through.
Left-back has been a somewhat cursed spot at Forest, but as long as Toffolo is at Forest, that left side has a solid option who is always prepared to put in a shift Roberto Carlos would be happy with. With a year left on his contract, I believe he deserves an extension, and as far as I’m concerned, the left-back spot is his.
*Article provided by Pierce Bramwell (Nottingham Forest Correspondent).
*Main image @NFFC Harry Toffolo celebrating his assist in the win over Aston Villa.