ALEX Baptiste said his first Rovers goal against his boyhood club Nottingham Forest was his way of getting back at them for never signing him.

The defender, on loan for Bolton, smashed home Rovers’ equaliser to start a run of three goals in 11 minutes that turned Saturday’s City Ground clash the visitors way.

It was a special moment for Baptiste, who admitted he still ‘absolutely loves’ Forest.


The 28-year-old started his career with nearby Mansfield before moving to Blackpool and then Bolton.

Despite moving to clubs away from the East Midlands Baptiste has never forgotten his Forest roots.

“I absolutely love this club,” he said. “Growing up round here and coming here when I was younger, it always feels special to play here and against Forest, so scoring is my way of getting back at them because I would have loved to have played for them but it hasn’t happened.

“If the situation was different I would have loved to have played for Forest, it’s an unbelievable club. Deep down part of me wishes I did play for this club because I’m a Forest fan.

“I saw the keeper just punch it out and (Michail) Antonio has tried to get to the cross and I’ve just held out and all that was going through my mind was just chest it and just hit it as sweetly as I can and luckily it has gone in.”

When Baptiste scored he ran to the Main Stand to celebrate, and afterwards he revealed that was because of his close friend, Ian Brown.

“My mate text me,” said Baptiste. “I was getting him the tickets, and he goes on about my number, I’ve always worn 15 all the way through my career, and that’s down to him really, so he said either point to the number or run to the Forest fans.

“Growing up together I used to stay at his house every weekend and he always wore number 15 and I wore number 16. Situations happen where we went our separate ways at 16 but I’ve always tried to wear number 15 because I wanted that number before and he was it. It’s almost in tribute to him, we keep in touch. I’ll always try and wear 15 if it’s free.”

For Baptiste, and for Rovers teammate Tom Cairney, who is also a Forest fan, the biggest battle this week has been securing enough tickets for friends and family to attend.

“I needed about 15 tickets today,” said Baptiste, “my family live round here, my mates were texting me, they’ve come to the game. I’ve got a lot of mates that are Forest fans. My uncle Johnson has a season ticket here.”

While getting one over on his boyhood club was a sweet feeling for Baptiste, he was delighted with the victory.

Rovers dominated the second half and created chance after chance, with Rudy Gestede and Jordan Rhodes also on the score sheet.

“The three points is a massive result for us,” said Baptiste, “Forest will be there or thereabouts and that’s what we’re hoping for. The second half performance from everyone was unbelievable. We played different class and it could quite easily have been five or six with the chances that we had.

“It’s a tough place to go, it isn’t going to get much tougher in this league than playing there when the crowd are behind them, so it’s an unbelievable win for the boys.”

He might be a Forest fan at heart but Baptiste can also see the potential in his current side, and he is hoping they can now push on and target a place in the top six.

“This (Rovers) is a massive club, absolutely massive,” he added, “the facilities and the stadium and the training ground, there is no reason we can’t push on. You’ve seen the quality we’ve shown on Saturday, we’ve gone to a promotion candidate and second half we’ve torn them apart.”