It’s not often a player is given the nickname ‘Psycho’ and thirty years after their retirement that name still strikes fear into rival fans and for former pros, but for Forest supporters and Stuart Pearce, that’s a privilege they are given.
Pearce is one of the quintessential working man’s footballers. Juggling playing for non-league Wealdstone and working as an electrician at 16, the talented fullback got his move into professional football after five years with Alliance Premier League club by signing for Coventry City.
Two years under Bobby Gauld’s side and Pearce was on the move again, this time to Forest, and although we now know the combative fullback would go on to spend 12 years with the Reds, the 23-year-old Psycho at the time was so unsure of his future as a football player that for some time he advertised his electrician services in Forest’s matchday programme.
But alas, we know the story now. Pearce went on to become an icon for the club, as well as for England. In a 12-year career at Forest, the England international went on to make over 500 appearances for the Reds, scoring 95 goals. Psycho also led the club to two League Cups as well as the Full Members Cup.
As well as the highs, Pearce remained at the club for some of its lows. The defender stayed at the club following relegation to League Division One, what is now the Championship, in 1993, and Pearce was involved in the FA Cup semi-final match between Forest and Liverpool in 1989 at Hillsborough, where 96 fans tragically lost their lives.
It was Pearce’s time in League Division One with Forest that immortalised him as a legend at the club. As well as helping the Reds gain promotion on the first attempt, their returning season in the Premier League saw Nottingham finish third in the league, qualifying them for European football for the first time in over 10 years.
Sadly, this was to be Pearce’s last hurrah with the club. Following the resignation of manager Frank Clark in December 1996, the now 34-year-old defender took up the mantle of caretaker manager, which resulted in Psycho leaving the club entirely the following March due to the appointment of Dave Bassett.
Pearce would return to Forest almost 20 years later as manager of the club he is so beloved at, however, this was also to end badly. With the Red sitting in 12th place in February and elimination from Rochdale in the FA Cup being a low point, Pearce was sacked by the club.
His managerial stints might have damaged his reputation at the club slightly, but there is still no doubt that Pearce is an icon of Nottingham Forest, the working-class player who became captain and led them back to success and to European football.
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