Few players epitomise the bulldog spirit better than the ferociously competitive Londoner, whose nickname ‘Psycho’, though fitting to a point, does him scant justice.
A career with a slow-burning fuse – Pearce trained as an electrician and began life with non-League Wealdstone – took off under Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest after a switch from Coventry City in 1985.
He spent the next 12 years at the City Ground, taking the club captaincy in 1987, the year of his England debut against Brazil. No slouch out off the blocks, and a constant marauder down the left flank, his never-say-die approach – and mule-like free-kicks – immediately endeared him to the nation.
And memorable though Paul Gascoigne’s Turin tears were when England exited the 1990 World Cup at the semi-final stage, the sight of a disconsolate Pearce after his penalty shoot-out miss against the West Germans was equally hard to shake.
His full-throated roar of relief, every sinew fit to burst, six years later at Euro 96 after a successful spot-kick in the quarter-final shoot-out victory over Spain is one of the quintessential modern England moments.
Recalled to the international fold under Kevin Keegan, the last of his 78 caps came in a Euro 2000 Qualifier against Poland in September 1999, aged 37.
After hanging up his boots at 41, he hit the management trail at Manchester City, where even the most hard-boiled United fan would find it hard to begrudge him success.
Pearce, a noted punk rock devotee, was made an MBE in 1998.
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