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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Retiring Pearce hunts ton
Stuart Pearce is mobbed by his team-mates after scoring a free-kick in the win against Watford at the start of the season
Pearce quickly became a hugely popular figure at City
After a career that took him from working as an electrician to defending for England, Stuart Pearce is finally calling it quits.

  Photo Gallery: Stuart Pearce's career in pictures

Stuart Pearce is hoping to bow out of football in style on Sunday by scoring his 100th professional goal and Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan will do everything in his power to help him.

Portsmouth provide the opposition in Pearce's last-ever game.

And with City being presented with the First Division championship trophy, the former England defender will leave the game in a carnival atmosphere.

Pearce notched his 99th career goal against Barnsley in October and is determined to complete his ton.

"I won't be leaving it until the last minute - I will be up there from minute one. I am thinking of playing on the right wing and cutting in," he said.

Stuart Pearce stands over Norwich's Steen Nedergaard
Pearce never gives less than 100% commitment

Under normal circumstances, even a manager as cavalier as Keegan might not be too keen on that plan of action, but the ex-England boss is nothing if not a romantic.

"I want nothing more than us to win and Stuart Pearce to play well and get his 100th goal," said Keegan.

"I think you can guess that if we get a penalty, free-kicks or corners, Stuart will be taking everything.

"It would be a nice final chapter in what has been an unbelievable career for a true professional."

Even if Pearce does not find the net, it will be a memorable occasion for his family, with daughter Chelsea leading out the team as City's mascot for the day.

Despite his stellar career, Pearce thinks his final season has given him as much pleasure as any during his lengthy career.


You've got to be lucky - and I was
Retiring legend
Stuart Pearce

"If I was going to write a script, this would be it," he said. "I've played 40-odd matches, captained the side and we've won the title.

"This is up there with what I have achieved in my career. It is a fantastic club to work for and I have really enjoyed my season.

"There is no doubt I am going to miss my football. I know I will be bored on Monday morning.

"I just feel as though I have no choice. I have got to go now. The bottom line is to look back and think I did all right.

"Now it is time to move on and forge a reputation in something else I want to do."

Stuart Pearce celebrates scoring in the penalty shoot-out against Spain in Euro 96
Pearce went from electrician to England hero
Pearce's longevity is all the more remarkable given that he started out in non-league football with Wealdstone, where he played for five-and-a-half seasons before Bobby Gould signed him for Coventry in 1983.

The veteran defender only got his chance with Wealdstone after the caretaker of his school wrote to the club, and Pearce knows that his success has been down to two factors - hard work and good fortune.

"I had five-and-a-half seasons there (Wealdstone) which is a hell of a long time in non-league.

"But I stuck at it and when I was given a chance by Bobby Gould I didn't look back after that.

"You've got to be lucky - and I was."

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Former England defender Stuart Pearce
"The sort of player I am is all or nothing"
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