As a player, Dave Bassett never quite made the grade. He tried at both Watford and Chelsea, but with no success. As a result of these failures he moved into non-league football with Walton and Hersham. He was a player in the Walton FA Amateur Cup winning team of 1973, when Walton beat Slough Town 1-0 in the final.
In 1974 he attracted the attention of Wimbledon, who were playing in the Southern League at the time. Wimbledon went on to win the Premier League title in the next three seasons and were elected to the Football League in 1977. Dave made 35 League appearances for the 'Dons' before he retired, becoming the club coach, in 1979.
He took over the managers job in 1981, and in his first season led the Dons to promotion to the Third Division. The following season was not so happy and the Dons were relegated. However, the Dons went on to win the Fourth Division title in 1982-3, and went on to finish runners up in the Third Division in the following season.
In 1985-6 the club won promotion to the First Division, and in their first season in the top flight they finished third.
It was not all plain sailing at Wimbledon, in 1984 Basset left Wimbledon for Crystal Palace, but within a week he had changed his mind and returned to Plough Lane.
He Joined Watford in 1987, but it was a very unhappy time for him and in February 1988 he left to join Sheffield United.
He spent seven years with the Bramall Lane club before returning to Crystal Palace for another go. This time his tenure at Selhurst Park would last a lot longer than one week.
He left Crystal Palace in February 1997 to join Forest as a general manager, relieving caretaker player-manager Stuart Pearce of the administrative duties at the club. The combined managerial team of Stuart Pearce and Dave Bassett could not save the club and Forest were relegated in May 1997.
During the close season Stuart Pearce resigned from his post as caretaker player-manager and Dave Bassett assumed full control of first team affairs at the end of May 1997.
The 1997-8 season was to be a great one for Dave Bassett and Forest, seeing them win the First Division title and promotion to the Premiership in May 1998. Things looked very rosy for a while, but during the close season things started to go wrong again.
Kevin Campbell was sold to Turkish club Trabzonspor (allegedly without Bassett's knowledge) and after failing to land Wim Jonk (allegedly his wage demands were too high) Pierre Van Hooijdonk decided he no longer wanted to play for the club and went on strike for three months.
Things went from bad to worse and by Christmas Forest were propping up the Premiership. There they were to remain there until the end of the season when they were relegated. Bassett was sacked January 1999 after Forest were knocked out of the FA Cup by Portsmouth.
After his sacking he did media work for several months. He was linked with a return to Sheffield United when Steve Bruce resigned and was appointed manager of Barnsley in June 1999.