Stuart ‘Psycho’ Pearce: “I played with hatred and with rage”

“I don’t know if they would call me a psychopath now, but I certainly wouldn’t tiptoe either,” Stuart Pearce thinks aloud during the interview with the Daily Mail when asked about the low vigor with which defenders are now used, according to the interviewer, towards the forwards. As if I was afraid to touch them. For Pearce a defender who earned his nickname of PsychoFirst for his own Nottingham Forest fans and then for all of England, no doubt, now he would have a hard time. The former international lateral acknowledges that he played with hatred and rage, that he channeled them into the field to intimidate the rival. That fame allowed him to earn a place. That and their grimacing faces.

“The other day I read something like this in the newspaper, if it motivates more love or hate when you go out to play. Interesting question. If it were me, I would be inclined to hatred ”, says Pearce, 58, with almost 80 international appearances for England behind him, a loyal squire of Gareth Soutghate, whom he defends as a coach with tooth and nail. Pearce claims that the game in the 80s and 90s was something else, almost like a bar fight. “You had to fight for your corner, if you didn’t go home,” he admits bluntly. Pearce openly admits to using his violent reputation to intimidate players in his career. “Perhaps today my nickname would not have been psychopath, perhaps, but certainly not a guy who walked on tiptoe”, is sincere. On his reputation for being violent and ‘deranged’, Pearse boasts of his tough guy nickname and acknowledges that he used it, but with control. “I was always in control, the worst thing you can do is lose it when you cross the field line. My external emotions did not reflect what I felt inside. This is how I portrayed myself against rivals. It was only to make my work easier.” he explains proudly.

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SPORT SOCCERFUTBOL 00/01 Manchester United soccer star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (bottom) tussles with West Ham United’s Stuart Pearce (R) in the FA Premiership game at Old Trafford 1 January, 2001. Manchester United beat West Ham United 3-1. REUTERS/Dan Chung
DAN CHUNG (REUTERS)

His speech is based on the change of football, in terms of rules, monitoring and management. Now he focuses on defending his friend Gareth Southgate, looking back on their times together in the national team. It was precisely wearing the Lions jersey that Pearse most channeled his anger. “I played with hatred for England, with resentment and anger,” he details due to the use he made of the furious criticism that England received in the late 80s and during the 90s. At the 1990 World Cup, England were left out of the final on penalties because Ilgner stopped Pearce. Six years later, the left-handed winger repeated against Spain in the Euro, in the quarterfinals, and then his goal and subsequent celebration became iconic, full of rage. But England were again out on penalties in the final, Southgate missed and Pearce was the first to go to console him. Criticism and more criticism.

“Okay, what do I have to lose? You’re in front of a firing squad anyway, so there is no difference; you could also go out fighting. At the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96, we reached a point where we get so tired of criticism, we think, ‘Damn, what’s the worst that can happen to us now? They’ve already had a look at us, we know you don’t like us and you think we’re shit, so we’ll have to show you. ‘ And in both tournaments we show it, ”he says. Pearce believes it was a way to take the pressure off, channel it into hatred, and go out on the field more motivated.

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BON-1996-0002130UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 18: EURO 1996 NED – ENG London; Stuart PEARCE / England, Yordi CRUYFF / Netherlands (Photo by Lutz Bongarts / Bongarts / Getty Images)
Lutz Bongarts (DIARIO AS)

“At the other extreme is what Southgate did with the England team and the media before the 2018 World Cup, you build love. His players felt the pressure was taken off them. At both ends the pressure is removed. The players in 2018 felt that the media and, more importantly, the crowd and the fans from home were with them, ”underlines a Pearce who is now David Moyes’s assistant at West Ham.

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