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Stuart Pearce: England v Poland 1993


My favourite goal from Matt Forde @Mattforde

Most of Stuart Pearce’s best goals were free kicks. This one is special for a number of reasons. Mainly, it’s a spectacular goal. It looks great - an absolute rocket into the top corner with a goalkeeper throwing himself at it with everything he’s got and getting nowhere near it. It’s at the old Wembley with those beautiful big goals. Then there’s Psycho’s total lack of celebration afterwards, which is almost deliberately comical. He looks annoyed to have scored. The rest of the team mob him with beaming faces giving the goal the celebration it deserves, pulling his shirt and jumping all over him like someone has scored at playtime. Paul Gascoigne even pushes up the sides of Pearce’s mouth to try and force a smile. Psycho sticks to his guns and refuses to smile. It lends the goal extra entertainment, the celebration is like a B Side, some bonus material to enjoy after the main event.  

The context of the goal is also what makes it special. It’s in September 1993, four months after Nottingham Forest had been relegated from the Premier League. Pearce stayed with Forest despite the potential risk to his cherished England career. Not only did he keep his England place, he was made captain. Which is incredible. The thought of any Championship player holding down a regular England spot is hard enough to imagine, let alone having them captain the side. This goal was scored in a midweek game, before 24 hours news media and the explosion of the internet so I had to wait days to see it. Lucky classmates who had Sky had told the rest of us how splendid it was but I needed to see it for myself. Every night that week I watched the news in full hoping to see it played at the end of the bulletin. Every night that week I was left disappointed. It wasn’t until Saturday when it got an airing on Grandstand that I got to see my hero score this magnificent goal. Despite it being days late, I celebrated as if I was watching it live. 

I love this goal for the same reasons I did at the time. It looks great but it also represents something else – vindication. Psycho’s loyalty to Forest had been vindicated, Taylor’s decision to keep him in the side and to make him captain had been vindicated and my decision to idolise him had been vindicated. I felt like he’d scored that goal for me and I loved him for it. 

Frame not included.