The Stuart Pearce Q&A
Considering what happened in the 1990 World Cup (Pearce missed a penalty in the shoot-out against West Germany); you were very vocal in volunteering to take penalties against Spain in Euro 96; what was your motivation at that moment?
It was basically; how can I deal with adversity? Adversity in 1990 with me missing a penalty inspired me to go on into the next season scoring 16 goals and having the best season I’ve ever had. Now, how did that happen? How do I decode that when most of my team mates came back into the squad from that World Cup, thought they’d done particularly well and had poor seasons. They put it down to tiredness, fatigue whatever. I come back under a cloud with something to prove. I reassessed my goals, so from that point of view, the adversity taught me a huge lesson and pushed me on. Every time adversity comes my way, it’s perfect for me.
You’ve worked under some of the most famous managers of all time including Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest as a player and as a coach with Kevin Keegan at Manchester City; are there any leadership or teamwork lessons you’ve taken away with you from them that you use today?
I think with Brian, he was a big influence on me. I had 8 years with him, 7 as captain. I think with him he was forever making sure you were grounded as a player and I think sometimes, certainly in our profession with the starry spotlight there is, you have to keep people grounded, although not as harshly as he did – to be quite honest with you. There were a couple of great cases where he called me in after being named in the England squad for the first time and asked me whether I was good enough. I said I didn’t know to which he said “Well get out, I don’t f**king think you are!” which grounds you straight away. But when you look back, you say hang on, he refocused me. You walk out of his office and you say “I’ll show you!”.
Is it true Brian Clough would take you out for a drink the night before a game?
Every game away from home, when we stayed in a hotel, he’d call you down to the bar…
For one or two pints?
Whatever you wanted really but it wasn’t for me at the time but other players did.
You have experience now of managing teams yourself; what’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from that?
Note: Stuart managed Manchester City - after Keegan’s departure; England Under 21s; the Great British Olympic Football Team in 2012 and Nottingham Forest.
For me, probably the greatest thing is recruitment, I would say. You have to get your recruitment right, now whether that’s managing teams or whether it’s within the workplace, in companies. You get your recruitment right, you’re half way there. Your coaching and a multitude of other things can be bi-products – they’re all part of the jigsaw – but recruitment is vital. You get the wrong people through the door that will cause a lot of problems to you so it’s all about getting the right people who help the team but don’t drag it down.
Panorama taken from the Trent End, Nottingham Forest
We know when you’re booked as a speaker you like to get to a conference early to get a feel for the event. Can you talk us through that?
I’d been booked for a session for a well known American beer company in Bristol. They want me to turn up from 2 to 3pm to be on stage. I said, when does you conference start? They said 9 in the morning. I’ll be there at 9. I want to sit and listen to all the key messages you’re going to put out. Because by the time you get from 9 to 2 O’clock the messages I’m putting across are totally different than if I’d walked through the door at 2. I would’ve been totally blind to the company, hadn’t been speaking to the people on the ground. I'd even go in a day or two prior to that, into the actual workplace and meet the CEO and have a chat with them. I want companies, after I’ve delivered my speech to say, he delivered, it was helpful to us and he went that extra mile as well.
You’ve previously mentioned that your main intention of your speech is reaching out and connecting with the non-football fan?
I’ve got the football fan. They come and say “That was brilliant…I remember I was at the stadium when…” I’ve got them and I’m thankful for that but it’s not them I want. It’s the rest. You get the: I don’t like football. I’ve got an hour of you – what you going to do for me? That’s the greatest challenge for me.
You’re renowned as being somewhat of a music fan with a well-known encyclopaedia website stating that you’ve met The Stranglers over 30 times.
I’ve seen them over 300 times!
What music are you listening to at the moment?
The Vaccines, Palma Violets, I like The Killers, Stereophonics that kind of thing.
Stuart Pearce, thank you very much.
Brian Clough picture courtesy of Wiki Commons; Stuart Pearce & The Stranglers, Wikipedia.