Pearce eyes success in U21 Euro play-off

October 10, 2008

England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce wants to bring footballing success to the country next summer after coming so close as a player.

Pearce feels his youngsters have a real chance of winning the European Championships - but to earn a place at the tournament in Sweden they have to beat Wales in a play-off, with the first leg at Ninian Park on Friday night.

After twice reaching the semi-finals during his playing career, Pearce knows the effect the prospect of success can have on England.

"I think it would be a fantastic lift," Pearce said.

"I was fortunate enough to be involved in 1990, when quarter of a million people turned up at Luton Airport to see a team that had been beaten in a semi-final.

"I was also fortunate to be involved in 1996 when the country went crazy after we got a little bit of momentum going in a tournament in our own back yard.

"I think winning is infectious, whatever trophy. At all age groups we are pretty successful but we have to win a trophy. That's what it boils down to.

"I only ever lost six games in 78 games for the senior team but I haven't got a trophy behind me or a winners medal to say 'this is what I got playing for England'."

Pearce hopes his under-21 dream does not end against Wales but he expects his job to be reviewed if his youngsters fail to make it through their play-off, with the second leg on Tuesday at Villa Park.

Pearce is regarded highly enough at the Football Association to be part of Fabio Capello's staff with the seniors.

It has been viewed by many as a way of nurturing homegrown coaching talent, although Pearce is also aware of the need to get results in matches such as the Wales clash.

"When I joined 18 months ago on a full-time contract it was a two-year contract," said the under-21 coach.

"That will be reviewed, I hope, next summer at the end of the tournament. That will change on Tuesday if we don't get through the play-off situation.

"That is something I would have to speak to my bosses about. I would still be under contract until the summer but it will be a decision for me and my bosses."

Pearce has been part of Theo Walcott's emergence for the seniors, starting him in every game last season before the Arsenal youngster was promoted to the seniors.

The former England left-back has also remained unbeaten in open play as under-21 coach, the only defeat he has suffered was after the marathon penalty shoot-out against Holland in last summer's finals tournament.

"I love doing this," he added. "The involvement is fantastic as well. I don't want that to end on Tuesday evening."