Stuart Pearce proud of Euro qualification

Pearce proud of qualification
© PA Photos
Stuart Pearce believes that his England Under-21 side showed immense character to qualify for the European Champions under difficult circumstances in Serbia last month.

England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has reiterated his pride in qualifying for next summer's European Championship.

Pearce watched his players overcome an infamously hostile atmosphere in Serbia last month to book their place in Israel.

Conor Wickham netted the decisive goal with seconds to spare before a mass brawl broke out following Thomas Ince being awarded a red card for his reaction to racist abuse.

The Young Lions coach believes that his squad's ability to focus on football under those conditions is a testament to their character.

He said: "My mentality hasn't changed, and I am still very proud from a footballing point of view as to how the team did over the two legs.

"For us to qualify we have put in a lot of hard work, and that was lost track of with what happened. It is in the hands of the authorities, and they will do what they see fit.

"We will sit back and say that we won two games over 180 minutes, rightly so, and we deserved to win and go through. From my point of view the footballing side must always come before other incidents."

England begin their preparations for the 2013 tournament with a friendly against Northern Ireland tomorrow night.

Paul Ince
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