Former Nottingham Forest team mate Roy Keane once said that Stuart Pearce was a “Man amongst boys” at Forest, whilst Southampton and England legend Matthew Le Tissier described him as his scariest opponent in his book “Taking Le Tiss”. Scarily determined, formidable, the hard working Pearce must have been a dream come true for his manager at Nottingham Forest, Brian Clough. Under his stewardship, and Pearce’s do or die trying attitude, both England and Nottingham Forest were graced with a superb left back.
After retiring from playing, Pearce took to management. First Man City, then the England Under 21’s, and more recently took charge at Nottingham Forest on 1st July 2014. Sadly it’s been something of a revolving door for managers of late, and the stability that the fans hoped for wasn’t to be. It was an incredible start to his first season, unbeaten with 13 points from 15, but things didn’t work out, and Pearce left the club on the 1st of February 2015.
We were very lucky to bump into him at Showmasters’ Collectormania event.
Ok, first up, what do you think are the chances for the European Cup?
I think they’ve got the nucleus of a very good squad, there’s a good team ethic about the squad, but I still think there’s one or two of our more talented players missing from the squad because of their elevation to the seniors. But I think the way they’ve come forward in a two year period with Gareth in charge, they’ve got a good chance, yeah.
Our players seem to be lacking, I don’t what it is, they do well in the domestic leagues but when it’s for England it just doesn’t seem to go to plan. What do you think the issues are there, for the senior team?
I think the pressures of playing for your country, and I think from my time when I played we had the likes of Gascoigne and various other individuals that put us, that elevated us into quite a decent team at the time, that could get into the semi-finals which we managed in 1996. I just think that we are where we are at the moment because we don’t give our younger players enough tournament experience as well, so when they do step into the senior environment they understand what tournaments are all about.
You are regarded as one of the best left backs that England has ever had, how do you feel when people say that to you?
It’s probably because I’m an electrician by trade I’m very humble anyway so whenever plaudits come my way, I know how hard I’ve had to work to be a professional footballer but I know I’m sat here today and I know that either side of me there are more talented people. The one thing that I’ve done has probably maximised my potential through sheer hard work basically, and determination. That’s a great lesson for anybody really you know, you can achieve what you want to achieve, you’ve just got to be determined and professional with what you do.
You were always passionate as a player, but there’s a criticism that players, either at club level or playing for England don’t seem to care who they’re playing for. Do you think that’s a fair comment?
Well, in this day and age of football you never see too many players, with the exception of the likes of Carrick or a Gerrard retiring, there are very few players associated with one club for many many years. Although I’ve got an association with Nottingham Forest, that kept me at the club, and you know that gives me an affection with the supporters which works both ways, it helps me, it helps the fans you know. But I think the problem is the freedoms of contracts, players don’t stay at one club for any given length of time and I think when the likes of John Terry retires, that’s probably the last of the sort of player who stays at one club, then we’ll lose that raw affection with the fans.
Some of your tackles were rather, “choice”, do you think though we’ve gone a bit over the top with the diving and soft tackles etc?
I think so yeah, I mean there’s a lot of gamesmanship that goes into professional football now, it’s a different environment from when I played the game. There is still, in professional football, room for a good tackle, and I think the British public and the English public appreciate that. You have to be very very clean in your tackle this day and age.
Thank you for your time!
I hope that’s helpful!