Nathan ‘Duke’ Ellington spent a season on loan with Derby during the 2008/09 campaign following the Rams’ relegation from the Premier League.
Paul Jewell signed the centre-forward from Watford in an attempt to bolster his side’s attacking options ahead of the club’s first season back in the Championship.
Ellington went on to make 32 appearances for the Rams, registering nine goals and two assists before returning to his parent club.
In a short interview exclusive to Derby County News, Ellington gave his insight into into his time at the club, including what it was like working under both Jewell and Nigel Clough and that hat-trick against Lincoln City.
What were the expectations like when you arrived at the club?
“Expectations were high. We wanted to get automatic promotion and we were building a team for it. The training ground, fans, players and coaches were all at a high standard. We were well equipped to make a push.”
How well do you remember your hat-trick against Lincoln City?
“I remember that Lincoln game like it was yesterday. We just came away from losing our opening game [of the season] against a newly promoted Doncaster Rovers.
“We had Lincoln at home in the cup and we were losing 1-0. It was a nervous game. Paul Jewell was not happy with the team after losing the first game and poured the pressure on us win this time.
“I was feeling great personally because I had a good pre-season and always knew I would be fitter after my first league game.
“I think there was maybe one minute of stoppage time left when I managed to get onto a through ball, stretching to get a toe poke [on the ball] which trickled into the far corner.
“We went into extra time. I knew we were going to win that game once it went to extra time. I managed to get a second goal to calm the nerves. Then minutes later I scored one of the most difficult goals of my career.
“The cross came in the ricocheted towards me at the edge of the box whilst I was moving backwards. I wrapped my foot around it and curled it past the keeper into the far right side netting to seal the win with a hat trick!”
Are there any other Derby goals that stick out to you?
“Derby goals that stick out. The hat trick of course.
“The last minute penalty against Stoke in the Carling Cup to take us to the next round against Manchester United.
“I remember most of my goals to be honest. Even the penalty in last minute against Charlton away in the blue [and white] Argentina-type kit.
What was it like working under Jewell and Clough? Are there any particular memories that stand out?
“Working under Jewell was normal for me. I had him at Wigan and achieved so much. He knew me so I was comfortable with him, even though he was a lot angrier this time around!
“Who can blame him? He never won a game in the Prem after Christmas. A manager that knows what he can do and coming off so many losses is always going to feel frustrated until he finally gets it right.”
“Nigel Clough, on the other hand, was a nice guy but he totallly disregarded me since I was on loan and he wanted to free up the wage bill.
“Although I was top scorer in cup and had just got us through to quarter-finals, he just didnt play me again and it affected my options for the following season.
“Training was fun though. As a player you always cant wait for small sided games in the week. Clough did SSGs every training session. I believe it helps keep the players very sharp.
“He was pretty basic though. No tactics ever worked on, just turn up and check if your name is on the team sheet and off you go to play. That was pretty funny.”
Are there any players from your time at the club whose career paths surprised you?
“To be honest, I cant think of any players that went on to massive things. I always liked Paul Green as a midfield player who was still young and went on to have a good career. Giles Barnes and Jordan Stewart went to America to play and have good careers. Apart from that I can’t think of anyone else.”