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: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back