Ex-Sky Blue player Stuart Pearce revisited his first professional club to launch the Fiat Professional Tradesman Trials at the Ricoh Arena…
Ex-Coventry City defender Stuart Pearce was at the Ricoh Arena last week to launch a new project to find a tradesman who may have the talent to make it as a professional footballer.
The nationwide search will see the winning tradesman receive a one month trial at a Football League club with the opportunity of realising their dream of making a career in professional football.
Stuart Pearce played for the Sky Blues between 1983-85 under the infamous Bobby Gould, before his move to Nottingham Forest. The ex-England international made 52 appearances in a City shirt, scoring four goals.
With Pearce managing his trade as an electrician whilst playing for the Sky Blues in the 80s, the ex-player believes this sort of initiative is capable of unearthing some untapped talent from lower leagues.
Pearce said: “When I came in to football I had just finished my trade by six weeks and went straight in to the pro game. There was a scenario where a lot of players were coming through non-league or lower league teams, treading the same sort of path as me.
“In this day in age, with the likes of Jamie Vardy appearing late on the scene, he has given players the platform and incentive to make a living in the game later in your career. This initiative gives the opportunity for a tradesmen who is also a talented footballer to get a trial at a Football League club.
“As Vardy has proven, there is talent out there that is good enough to play professionally but has slipped through the net.”
Pearce made his professional debut under club legend Bobby Gould and remembered a number of fond memories during his two seasons with the Sky Blues.
“This is where I started, my first professional club. The club that gave me the opportunity to play league football,” Pearce recalled.
“The tie in, to come back here is great for me - I’ve journeyed full circle almost. Back in the 80s I was still wiring John Sillett’s barn whilst playing! But to be back at the club where it all started gives this project a touch more profile.
“There were some real old heads in the dressing room, players with great experience. Bob Latchford and Kenny Hibbitt were here at the time, I made some real good friends. Any club that gives you the opportunity to come from humble beginnings and carve a pathway for you, for me it was a wonderful club to come to.”
Pearce went on to make over 400 appearances for Nottingham Forest, as well as spells at Newcastle United, West Ham and Manchester City.
Indeed, so unsure was Pearce of his footballing future that, after the £300,000 transfer deal to Forest from City, he actually advertised his services as an electrician in Forest's match-day programme.
“When I first arrived at Coventry the team were flying at the top of the league, then the second season we stayed up by beating the league champions Everton on the final day. It was always exciting.
“Bobby Gould was the man that give me that opportunity, I’ll forever be grateful for that chance. I see Bobby now and then, he reminds me that he made me a footballer. He was brilliant for me, gave me a platform to develop as a young player and was the first stepping stone on my journey through football.
“He came and watched for me half a game, backed himself, and said he’ll do for me.”