Stuart Pearce was at the Stadium of Light on Friday to meet and talk with a group of englandfans.
Stuart Pearce believes there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about England's future as he looks at the players coming through the youth ranks preparing for full international football.
The England Under-21 coach was answering questions about his career and talking about the current state of the game during a fans’ forum at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Friday.
Pearce highlighted two games when he was asked about his most memorable appearances for England.
He said: “I’d pick out my debut against Brazil at Wembley. You look around at your team-mates and think, ‘Am I good enough to be here?’
"You see the opposition and they’re half decent as well! In the game against Holland in ’96, we played some fantastic football, winning 4-1. It was as good as England have played over the years.”
When he was challenged to pick out young players to look out for in the future, Pearce named several members of his Under-21 squad and also pinpointed a couple of promising teenagers.
“I think Theo Walcott has got the raw potential to be a helluva player,” he said.
“In a less glamorous position, I think that Joe Hart of Manchester City will be an international goalkeeper for many years. I hope Gabby Agbonlahor will keep improving and arrive on the England scene.
“I saw an extremely good centre-forward at Hartlepool playing for the England U18s. He’s a lad called Daniel Welbeck who plays for Manchester United and he looks as though he could come on the scene as well. Victor Moses, maybe, from Crystal Palace.
“I think there are one or two names you can scatter around, but it’s like coming from the Championship to the Premier League – the gulf is massive and certainly the gulf is pretty big as well coming from normal club football to the international fold.”
Pearce, who admitted he was impressed with the level of questioning, firmly believes that forums provide a vital link between the fans and those involved at the highest level of the game.
“I think the questions were quite intelligent ones - they’ve certainly made me think a bit,” said the former defender, capped 78 times.
“Unless we’ve got the fans, we’ve got nothing, to be quite honest.
"I think a general criticism around the country is that maybe the players are a little bit divorced from the general public, which is a shame to hear. So the more functions we can do like this the more people have a feel for what it’s like within the England camp.”
For more information on the englandfans, the official England fan club,