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?
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?