Stuart Pearce named football coach for 2012 Olympics

Stuart Pearce insisted he has complete control who he selects for the Great Britain Olympic football team at London 2012 after being appointed today as the head coach.

Pearce, the former England captain and current boss of the Under-21s, was unveiled at a Wembley press conference along with Hope Powell, who was installed as head coach of the GB women's team.

Pearce insisted he wants his team, if possible, to be made up of players from all the home nations even though the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish football associations are all officially opposed to a Great Britain team as a concept, fearing it could jeopardise their independence with FIFA.

Welsh players, Tottenham's Gareth Bale and Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, however, have already stated they want to play in the Games.

Pearce said: "I'm not going into this job looking only to select English players. It should be made up if at all possible of all the home nations.

"They should come forward and put their players up for selection. A lot of it will depend on the players mentality. If the players want to be part of it then that would be fantastic. I think they will.

"I think they will be very, very excited to be part of this showcase of football. Dialogue will come into it between myself and the federations and the managers concerned and I think support will be galvanised as the months go by and the tournament nears kick-off."

On whether 36-year-old David Beckham might be included as one of the three over-age players allowed in the 18-man squad of Under-23 players, Pearce would not be drawn.

"I've no idea as yet," Pearce said.

"I've not seen him play recently. He's a bit too old for the Under-21s.

"Everyone will be up for selection. Form and fitness will determine who I pick. The FA have said to me the decision is totally yours, you pick who you deem right and proper to be part of this spectacle."

To highlight what the Games mean to players Pearce cited the example of Argentina's Lionel Messi, who took his club Barcelona to court to guarantee his release for selection at the 2008 Games.

Pearce said: "To have the opportunity to galvanise our national game on such a massive stage as the Olympics is a massive honour.

"Take the role models that have gone before, such as Lionel Messi, who actually went to court to fight his club to get released to go to a major tournament such as the Olympics.

"With the announcement of myself and Hope as managers it really sparks it off and puts it in the players' eyes less than a year to kick-off. It is exciting. If I was a player I would be certainly doing everything I could to be put up for selection.

"I was privileged to be around for Euro 96 and the excitement created around this stadium and if we get on a roll the excitement could generate something special."

The English FA initially said no-one taking part in Euro 2012 would be available for selection but insist now this is not a hard and fast rule which could mean players such as Wayne Rooney, banned from the first three matches at Euro 2012, might yet be available for Olympic selection.

The last time Team GB was represented in the men's Olympic football competition was the 1960 Games in Rome when they beat Taiwan, drew with Italy and lost to Brazil and failed to advance to the medal round.

Team GB has never competed in a women's Olympic competition and Powell, head coach of England women since 1998, said: "The fact that we are on home soil with the opportunity to play at Wembley for women's football is a fantastic honour.

"It will really help us to raise the profile of women's football."

PA

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