England bid farewell to Pearce

Football

Stuart Pearce's announcement of his retirement from international football yesterday will be a case for great celebration by goalkeepers and a legion of right-wingers, but England will mourn the loss of an uncompromising full-back, patriot and motivator.

The 34-year-old Pearce, who told his team-mates of his decision immediately after Wednesday's Euro 96 semi-final defeat by Germany, had made up his mind in April.

"I'm sad, but the time is right. I wouldn't expect to play through to the next World Cup finals and I didn't want my England days simply to fizzle out," Pearce said. "I honestly felt that my last match would be the final, but that wasn't to be."

His expression after firing home a penalty in the shoot-out against Spain a week ago will remain one of the most memorable images of the tournament. The memory that had haunted him for six years was erased as he ensured that he would no longer be remembered as the man who cost England a place in the World Cup final, but the player who restored a country's faith in its football.

Repeating the feat against Germany, he has exorcised all the old ghosts and now, at the end of his testimonial year, he has decided there is no better time to leave the international arena.

Nottingham Forest's chairman, Fred Reacher, said: "I doubt if there has been a prouder footballer representing his country and although he could probably have carried on longer at the highest level everyone has got to respect his wishes."

Pearce came in at the top against Brazil nine years ago and it will not have been an easy decision for the Londoner. A qualified electrician, he came to the professional game late, when, as a 21-year-old, he was signed by Coventry from Wealdstone for only pounds 25,000. He has always appreciated his good fortune.

"I worked for five or six years as a sparks. I never thought I would win one England cap, or even play professional football. So I'm more than happy to turn up, sit in the stands and wait for my country's call at any time," said a player whose image belies a dry, sharp sense of humour.

That dedication earned him a revival of his England career under Terry Venables, well before injury to Graeme Le Saux made him indispensable again. He also won back the captaincy, first given to him by Graham Taylor, and led the side for the ninth time against Bulgaria in March. In all he won 70 caps, scoring five goals.

Brian Clough, who signed him for pounds 200,000 for Nottingham Forest, always thought the world of a player who has scored more than 80 goals from left- back and helped inspire two League Cup wins.

Few have enjoyed tangling with him, right to the last when his semi-final eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Andreas Moller led the German captain into lashing out for the booking which put him out of yesterday's final.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test