Stuart Pearce was the Nottingham Forest captain in the 1990s
Rollercoaster ride at Forest in the ‘90s
In 1993, Forest became the first team to be relegated from the newly formed Premier League and Brian Clough retired.
Pearce could have been forgiven if he had left the club to protect his place in the England team but he decided to stay and led the team to promotion at the first time of asking as Forest finished as runners up to Crystal Palace in 1994.
Forest enjoyed a fantastic run the following season and they finished third in the league, the highest Premier League finish for a newly promoted side.
The next season Pearce led Forest around Europe as they got to the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup before being beaten by a star studded Bayern Munich team 7-2 on aggregate.
Banishing his demons at Euro 96
Pearce remained a key part of England’s team and after a disappointing European Championships in 1992 and failing to qualify for the World Cup in USA 94, England hosted the European Championships in 1996.
They progressed impressively through the group stage and faced Spain in the quarter finals. The game finished goalless after extra time and again England faced a penalty shootout.
Pearce stepped forward and struck England’s third penalty into the net to wipe away the pain and frustration he had suffered for six years.
He turned to the crowd and roared as he saluted them in a moment that every Englishman will forever remember.
England won the shootout and progressed to the semi finals. However, they suffered defeat at the hands of Germany again in a shootout despite Pearce again scoring his spot kick.
Leaving the City Ground after 12 years
Forest started the 1996/7 badly and manager Frank Clark resigned midway through the season. Pearce was made player/manager and despite improving the side’s fortunes he could not prevent them being relegated from the top flight again.
Pearce did leave Forest this time in the summer of 1997 as he was still in contention for England’s World Cup squad in 1998. He was signed by Kenny Dalglish at Newcastle where he scored his only goal in Europe’s top competition, the Champions League.
However, Dalglish was dismissed as Newcastle boss and the new man in charge Ruud Gullit felt threatened by the senior players at the club and made them train with the reserves.
So Pearce was on the move again, this time to West Ham where he spent two years and won the Premier League Player of the Month for February 2001 despite being 38 years old.
He ended his playing career at Manchester City, helping them win the First Division title in 2002.
He later went on to manage the club before taking control of the England Under-21 team.