|England coach Hope Powell is leading the first GB women’s team to appear at an Olympics [GALLO/GETTY]|
Former England defender Stuart Pearce will coach Britain’s first Olympic football team in 52 years at the London Games.
The 49-year-old Pearce, whose appointment was announced on Thursday by The Football Association, also coaches England’s under-21 team and is a member of Fabio Capello’s staff for the senior national side.
Britain will field a women’s team for the first time at an Olympics. It will be coached by Hope Powell, who also leads the England team.
“The attendances at the games during Euro 2005 were a sign of progress for women’s football in this country, and it helped provide a platform for what has happened since then,” said Powell.
“I’m delighted to be in the position to be able to take a team into such an illustrious tournament, I just wish it were starting tomorrow.”
“I am certainly not going into this job only looking to select English players”
While the Olympic team will be made up mostly of English players, Pearce will have the potentially contentious task of selecting some Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish players.
Britain has not fielded an Olympic football team since 1960 because Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland fear losing their independence within FIFA.
“I am certainly not going into this job only looking to select English players,” Pearce said.
“This should if possible be made up of players from all the home nations… I think support will come and be galvanized.”
Bale and Beckham?
Wales winger Gareth Bale is considered the best non-English player that Pearce would want to select. It is unlikely his federation would prevent him from playing.
“It’s (52) years since Great Britain had a team in the Olympics and I think it will be a really fantastic opportunity to bring together players from the home countries,” FA chairman David Bernstein said.
“It will be interesting how the squad develops.”
|Stuart Pearce has a challenge on his hands to unite the home nations ahead of the Games [GALLO/GETTY]|
Pearce can select three players over the age of 23, raising the possibility that 37-year-old David Beckham could play in the Olympics.
“Form and fitness will dictate who I decide to pick,” Pearce said when asked about Beckham.
Pearce is unlikely to be able to select any members of England’s 2012 European Championship squad.
Pearce, who was known as “Psycho” during his playing days when he made 78 appearances for England, has coached the under-21 side since 2007 after managing Manchester City.
“I am extremely proud to have this opportunity,” he said.
“I was fortunate to be part of Euro ’96, so I know how special it can be to play for your country on home soil at a major tournament. I’m sure this group of players will relish being part of not only a huge tournament in this country, but a unique one competing together and representing the U.K.”