As hard as they come, Stuart Pearce was a marauding left back who was famed for his bone crunching tackles and lethal free kicks.
He spent over ten years playing for Nottingham Forest where the fans affectionately nicknamed him ‘Psycho’ because of his will to win and aggressive tackling.
He played 78 times for England under five different managers. No player ever wore the famous three lions shirt with more pride.
Starting out in non-league football
Pearce first signed as a professional in 1983 when he was bought from non-league side Wealdstone by top flight outfit, Coventry City. He played for Coventry for two seasons and built a reputation as an uncompromising defender who could also offer an attacking threat going forward.
In 1985 he was signed by Brian Clough as a make weight in a deal that saw Ian Butterworth also leave Coventry for Forest.
Pearce was still unconvinced that he had what it took to make it in top level professional football so he advertised his services as an electrician in Nottingham Forest’s match day programme for his first few seasons at the City Ground.
Leading Forest to cup glory
Pearce’s doubts were soon erased as he established himself as a key player in Clough’s team and was made club captain.
Forest were still a force in England’s top division and Pearce helped them to League Cup glory in 1989 when they beat Luton in the final. Forest successfully defended the League Cup the following season with a victory over Oldham in the final.
Penalty shootout heartache at Italia ‘90
Pearce had become a regular in the England team and was a key part of the squad that progressed to the semi finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
England faced West Germany and the game was a thriller – made famous by Paul Gascoigne’s tears after he was booked, meaning he would be suspended for the final if England made it through.
The game finished 1-1 and the teams couldn’t be separated even with extra time. The match was decided by penalties and Pearce saw his spot kick saved by the German goalkeeper.
Along with Chris Waddle blasting over the bar, England were eliminated but still returned as heroes.
Pearce was taunted by opposition supporters the following season for losing England the World Cup, but he didn’t let it affect him and played better than ever.
Forest got to Wembley again when they met Tottenham in the FA Cup final. Pearce opened the scoring with a trademark free kick but Forest went on to lose the game 2-1 in extra time.
Leading Forest through Europe – Read more