Talking the Beautiful Game

Stuart Pearce – More Redemption

What must have been going through poor Stuart Pearce’s head?

In 1996, England had just drawn 0-0 with Spain in the quarter final of the European Championships. Hosted in England, the English national team had inspired the nation, topping their group having beaten Scotland and thrashed the Dutch. And here they were in the quarter finals, a few penalty kicks away from a major tournament semi-final.

‘I’ll take one boss.’

 Stuart Pearce put his name forward.

Rewind six years earlier and the significance of this gesture becomes apparent. After a breathless match, England and Germany were inseparable in the 1990 World Cup semi-final. To penalties it went, and unfortunately for Stuart Pearce he was the first to blink, his penalty saved by Bodo Illgner. Chris Waddle’s miss followed and England exited the tournament.

‘I’ll take one boss.’

Fast forward to 1996 and England are 2-1 up in the penalty shoot out against Spain. Pearce walks the 40 yards from the half-way line to the penalty spot, receives the ball, and places it on the ground. 

‘Nobody, really wants to see him miss it,’ warned the commentator.

And then Pearce smashed the ball into the bottom corner, just past the outstretched glove of the Spanish goalkeeper. His celebrations, eyes bulging, screaming into the roars of the crowd, told the story. England went on to win and progressed to the semi-finals, where Pearce scored in another penalty shoot out. This, however, was his moment of redemption. 

Written by @maxmcl3an

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