England football legend Stuart Pearce is set to finally make his debut for a team dubbed “the worst in the UK”.
The former Nottingham Forest defender signed for struggling Longford AFC in January in a bid to end its season-long losing streak and 178-goal deficit.
He was due to get his boots on for the Gloucestershire non-leaguers last month, but the match was called off.
A club spokesman said with Pearce on side, it was hoping to get its “very first win of the season” on Saturday.
Rooted to the bottom of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two, Longford AFC has lost all its games this season and conceded nearly 200 goals – earning it the name of “the worst team in England”.
But following their star January signing, club treasurer Mike Dean said the squad had been training hard and “games haven’t been as bad”.
“We went down to Bisham Abbey – the old England stomping ground – a couple of weeks ago with Stuart and were training down there for about two-and-a-half hours,” he said.
“We have been getting beat but the scores are only 1-0, 2-0 – very low now. So things are getting better and the confidence is in the side.”
On Saturday, 53-year-old Pearce – nicknamed Psycho – will be turning out for Langford AFC in a bottom of the league clash with Wootton Rovers.
‘Run rings around’
Simon Graham, Wootton Rovers manager, said it was “chuffed” but their right winger was a “little bit nervous” about marking an “ex-England superstar”.
“We’ve got a young squad and Stuart Pearce’s legs aren’t as fresh as they used to be so we’ll run some rings around him,” he said.
Pearce, who won 78 England caps, was part of Sir Bobby Robson’s squad that reached the last four of the World Cup in Italy in 1990, and the Terry Venables-led side that was eliminated at the same stage of Euro ’96.
He retired from playing six years after that, having enjoyed spells at Newcastle United, Manchester City, West Ham, Coventry and non-league Wealdstone, as well as captaining Forest under the management of Brian Clough.