Pearce pride at qualification
Tuesday, 16 October, 2012
England Under-21 Head Coach delighted to reach Euro 2013 after win over Serbia
Stuart Pearce expressed his delight after England secured their place at the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Finals in Israel with a 1-0 win over Serbia, helping them secure a 2-0 aggregate win.
The Young Lions looked like sealing their progress with a hard-fought goalless draw but a last-minute goal from substitute Connor Wickham, after some courageous defending, won them the game.
The end of the match was marred by ugly scenes but Pearce praised his players for conducting themselves with the utmost dignity.
He said: “The first thing to say is what a fantastic result.
"We come away from home to a really difficult place to play and built on what we had from the first leg so I’m massively proud of that and the players’ achievements.
“They had to defend stoutly and credit to them for that.
“The Serbian director has come to my office and apologised for any bad behaviour that was unsavoury. I never like to see football matches end like that.
"There were racist incidents from the crowd and they have been reported to UEFA.
“It’s very sad but we’re united as a team. A lot is happening in our country to stamp out racism and I’m very proud of the reaction of our players and it’s a shame because it was a close tie teams between two who were really going hammer and tongs and it’s just a shame it was soured at the end.
“The important thing is we’re going to the championships next summer because we deserve to do so. Our players have put effort and sweat in.
“We are collectively prepared and we will let the authorities deal with it.
“I’ve given a good account of ourselves and won nine out of ten matches in qualification and I am very, very proud.”