England legend Stuart Pearce is to make an amazing comeback to competitive football with Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two side Longford AFC, 14 years after retiring.
Pearce, 53, won 78 caps for England and represented the likes of Coventry City, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle United and Manchester City throughout a career that spanned twenty years.
He started his playing career in non-league with Wealdstone and will now return to his non-league roots thanks to insurance company Direct Line’s #directfix campaign.
Longford’s season has been, to say the least, traumatic.
The club lost their entire first team and manager before the season started, and currently sit bottom of the league having lost all nineteen of their games, leaving them with a goal difference of -180.
Pearce said: “I believe grassroots football is essential to the lifeblood of the game, so when Direct Line contacted me and asked me if I would like to come out of retirement and help raise the profile of Longford AFC, I jumped at the chance.
“I started out in non-league football playing for Wealdstone before joining Coventry City so I’m looking forward to working with manager Nick Dawe, and helping a group of talented young footballers achieve their dreams and, hopefully transform both the dressing room confidence, as well as, the on the pitch performance and seeing how far they can go up the league.”
Longford manager Nick Dawe commented “We are indebted to Direct Line, for giving a grassroots club like us the opportunity to learn from one of the country’s finest ex-professional’s. Stuart Pearce has been there and done it will give us the best chance possible to go further than we ever have done before.”
“The initiative shines a light on non-league football reminding people of the importance of amateur football in contributing to the development of the national game. We started the league with only 13 players but now the media attention around Stuart Pearce’s signing has seen our squad number now reach 25 first team players. A year ago we were playing in front of one man and his dog and now, we are set to hundreds for Stuart Pearce’s debut.
“Stuart knows that there will be no special treatment, he will still need to pay his £5 a game subs.”
Wendy Pearson, Head of Marketing at Direct Line added: “As soon as we saw the negative media coverage around Longford AFC we knew that we should help. At Direct Line, fixing is what we do and so we are proud to help announce this marquee signing for Longford AFC.
We are looking forward to seeing how Stuart Pearce will help to transform both the dressing room atmosphere and confidence. As part of our #directfix campaign, we will also be supplying the team with a brand new kit and training equipment so that they can take to the field as the stars they are.”
Quotes from: www.gloucestercitizen.co.uk