Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
As a player, Pearce had a long and distinguished career, becoming one of the best left backs his country has ever produced.
Born in London, he failed a trial at Queens Park Rangers and then rejected an offer from Hull City, instead settling happily into a career in the non-league game while training and working as an electrician.
He then got a surprise offer of a trial from top-flight club Coventry City which he took with relish - making his debut in 1983. Quickly establishing himself as an uncompromising left back who played hard and fair, he was bought by Brian Clough for Nottingham Forest two years later.
Pearce spent more than ten years at Forest, most of it as club captain and briefly also as player manager , a caretaker role he held while the club found a long-term boss. He won two League Cups and the Simod Cup, while also scoring from a free kick in the 1991 FA Cup final, when Forest were ultimately beaten by Tottenham Hotspur.
He made his debut for England against Brazil in 1987 (the 999th player to receive an England cap) and, from 1988 onwards, became the first choice left back for his country. He became Forest's most capped player and ended up with 78 international appearances to his name.
In 1990, Pearce had a goal ruled out from a free kick during a World Cup group game against Holland. England progressed to the semi-finals, and Pearce was one of two unfortunate players to miss a penalty in the shoot-out which took place against West Germany after the match had ended in a 1-1 draw. Pearce left the field in tears, though was never blamed for England's defeat as his penalty was saved by the goalkeeper and was on target for the goal, unlike the one which followed from Chris Waddle, which ballooned over the crossbar.
Pearce played in an unsuccessful campaign for England, when they failed to win any of their group games. He again had a goal from a free kick disallowed in a drawn game against France. England's failure to qualify for the in the USA included a personal nightmare for Pearce, when his underhit back pass allowed San Marino, one of world football's worst teams, to score after just 12 seconds of their qualifier. England still won the game 7-1, but qualification was already impossible.
When Terry Venables became England coach later in 1994, Pearce lost his place to Graeme Le Saux but then regained it after the Blackburn Rovers defender suffered a broken leg. Pearce stayed in the side into the Euro 96 competition, laying his ghosts to rest with a successful penalty in a quarter final shoot-out against Spain, which England won. His forceful, emotional celebration before an ecstatic Wembley crowd became one of English football's most celebrated images. He repeated the feat in the semi-final shoot-out against Germany but once again the Germans emerged victorious.
After the tournament, Pearce joined fellow England penalty missers Chris Waddle and Gareth Southgate (who missed in Euro 96) in a light-hearted commercial for Pizza Hut in which they poked fun at their own misfortunes.
When Nottingham Forest suffered relegation from the Premier League, Pearce left for Newcastle United and reached another FA Cup final, though again he emerged defeated. His England career seemed over with the return to fitness of Le Saux, but he briefly got back in the side at the age of 36 when Keegan became manager. By now Pearce was playing for West Ham United. He could have won even more caps at this late stage, but then suffered a broken leg.
Pearce's last club was Manchester City, where he spent two seasons as a player-coach , missing a penalty in his final game as a professional footballer, even though goalkeeper Dave Beasant had promised not to attempt a save. Had he scored, Pearce would have achieved 100 career goals.
He remained at Manchester City as a coach, and was appointed caretaker manager of the club on March 10th, 2005 following the departure of Keegan. He expressed his wish on appointment to get the job permanently, though accepted that this would depend on the results he achieved during his temporary period in charge.
Pearce is married to Liz and is a known devotee of punk rock. Throughout his career, he was given the affectionate nickname of 'Psycho' for his unforgiving style of play. This was initially a tag afforded to him only by Forest fans, though later it was adopted by England supporters too.
Although Pearce, with his 78 caps, stands as the 11th most capped player for England, he did not even emerge as the most capped left back - his predecessor Kenny Sansom achieved that with 86 caps, which places him sixth in the all-time list. But that said, in a recent TV poll to find England's greatest XI, the public voted overwhelmingly for Stuart Pearce to take the left back spot. Sansom and Ashley Cole, the other candidates in the poll, trailed well behind.
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