Stuart Pearce... TheFA.com asks international legends from different eras to nam
TheFA.com asks international legends from different eras to name their ultimate England team, and in the first of the series, we find out who Italia '90 defender Stuart Pearce would have in his best ever eleven...
Stuart Pearce played 78 times for England between 1987 and 2000 and for many fans epitomised what wearing the Three Lions was all about.
He started his football career as a part-time player earning more money as a trained electrician.
But through grit, determination - and more skill than he was given credit for - he worked his way up to play in a World Cup semi-final.
Pearce was also known for his thunderbolt free-kicks and penalties and it was ironic that one of the few spot-kicks he missed came against West Germany in Italia 90.
When he stepped against Spain in a Euro 96 penalty shoot-out six years later, the tension was almost unbearable. He scored and the fist-pumping roar of elation and pure relief became part of English football folklore.
"I've mainly stuck to players that I have either seen or played with," says Pearce of his greatest ever England XI.
"Obviously some names like Bobby Moore deserve to be in on reputation alone. But it's good to be able to pick guys I knew personally from England days like Peter Shilton, Des Walker, Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker. It makes me proud to think I was able to stand alongside them shoulder-to-shoulder."
STUART PEARCE'S ULTIMATE ENGLAND XI
Goalkeeper - Peter Shilton (1970-90) 125 caps, 0 goals
The most-capped international in England's history, Shilton played in three World Cups and was 40 when he reached the semi-finals of Italia 90. A famously intensive trainer, Shilts won the league championship and two European Cups with Nottingham Forest
Right-back - George Cohen (1964-68) 37 caps, 0 goals
Gentleman George played in every game of the 1966 World Cup triumph and George Best has gone on record as saying he was the best full-back he ever had to face. Cohen has successfully beaten cancer since his retirement
Central defender - Bobby Moore (1962-73) 108 caps, 2 goals
The only England captain to have lifted the World Cup, Moore was known for his immaculate timing and reading of the game. Held in great respect by all professionals, the picture of him hugging Pele after Brazil beat England in 1970 became a byword for sportsmanship. Tragically died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 51.
Central defender - Des Walker (1989-93) 59 caps, 0 goals
Blessed with outstanding pace, Walker was rated one of the best defenders in the world after Italia 90. He was such an insurance get-out for his managers, Brian Clough never used to allow him to cross the halfway line at Nottingham Forest. Thankfully the same didn't apply for his Forest team-mate Stuart Pearce!
Left back - Kenny Sansom (1979-88) 86 caps, 1 goal
Sansom was the ideal left-back, equally able to mark and tackle as well overlap and join in the attacking play. Played in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups while an Arsenal player, he amused team-mates in Mexico by bringing along his Mum when players were allowed to invite partners to join them in World Cup preparations.
Midfield - Bobby Charlton (1958-70) 106 caps, 49 goals
The only Englishman who was as popular worldwide as The Beatles in the 1960s. Everyone loved Bobby from his combover hairstyle to his unfeasibly hard shot. Survived the Manchester United Munich air crash to have a glittering career, winning the World Cup and finishing with a record 49 goals for England
Midfield - Paul Gascoigne (1987-98) 57 caps, 10 goals
Gazza was part-clown, part-genius and one of the major reasons behind the football boom of the 1990s. His tears and breathtaking ability during the 1990 World Cup brought the game to a new, wider audience and for a time he was the most famous man in the country. Scored one of Wembley's greatest ever goals against Scotland in Euro 96
Midfield - Bryan Robson (1980-91) 90 caps, 26 goals
'Captain Marvel' skippered England 65 times and would surely have beaten Peter Shilton's overall appearance record had it not been for injuries, which curtailed his personal campaigns in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. Scored the fastest England goal in World Cup history, netting against France after just 27 seconds in 1982
Winger - Stanley Matthews (1934-57) 54 caps, 11 goals
Football's first knight, Sir Stan was known as the Wizard of the Dribble and was famous in all four corners of the globe before the advent of colour television, let alone the internet. As a teenager he helped England beat World Cup holders Italy and he went onto become his country's oldest international at the age of 42.
Striker - Gary Lineker (1984-92) 80 caps, 48 goals
No Englishman has scored more World Cup goals than Lineker, who won the famed Golden Boot at the Mexico tournament in 1986. Lineker's ice-cool temperament was best shown with two penalties against Cameroon in a dramatic Italia 90 quarter-final. But he did miss from the spot against Brazil to equal Charlton's 49 goals for England
Striker - Alan Shearer (1992-2000) 63 caps, 30 goals
Became a national hero when he was top scorer during Euro 96. The perfect all-round centre-forward, Shearer was immensely strong and possessed the hardest shot since Bobby Charlton. Scored twice in the 1998 World Cup finals, he retired from international football after Euro 2000. Still going strong for Newcastle United
Stuart was talking to Joe Bernstein