Thierry Bonalair, what a wonderful utility player he was. Like an earlier better older version of James Perch.
Bonalair came to Forest from the Swiss Club Neuchâtel Xamax, after spells with a few of the mid table top flight French Clubs. The Paris born 31 year old signed on a bosman deal by Dave Bassett was a complete unknown to all of us.
Bonalair would start life for Forest as a right winger, in our game against Port Vale. The first few games we would start as left winger, spent some time in the middle or on the right, or one the bench before making right back his own from March until the end of the season. The midfield in that season was barely ever settled with ever rotating set of players to choose from.
Forest were promoted this year. Bonalair played in 31 games overall and scored 2 goals.
Back in the Premier League and Bonalair started off were he left off at Right Back. This is not where he would finish up. A season of relegation and a change of manager would always see upheaval and Bonalair again would get shunted all round the park, as Forest even experimented with wing backs. A flurry of signings by Ron Atkinson could have seen him out the side, but Bonalair seemed to hang on in the side The season was not a success for anyone, though Bonalair did score a goal against Sheffield Wednesday. Forest were relegated dead last
Bonalairs third and final season would see us back in the Championship, under David Platt. A season so completely forgettable that I barely recall much it. Bonalair would only play half the games of the previous seasons as Platt bought in a host of defenders. After surviving the introduction of the woeful Matrecano and Mannini, later arrivals such as Jim Brennan and the emergence of a new generation of Forest youngsters would see the now 33-34 year old out the side after new years and barely feature, before being released.
Bonalair was believed to be retiring to run a restaurant but he re-emergend in Switzerland for a short spell with FC Zurich, and he is now chief scout for Lille in France.
Bonalair was a player who always gave his all, and was liked by the fans. Te chants of "He's here, he's there, he's ever ****ing where, Bonalair, Bonalair" underlines his energy and commitment to the team. His main downfall only ever was never making a position his own. Overall he made 58 appearances for the Reds scoring 5 goals.