Date of birth
Republic of Ireland
The first of a rich, rich crop of Academy graduates to make an impact at first team level, the Oratory School-educated centre-half was first drafted into the Royals’ youth system at the age of 12 and signed his first professional deal with the club in 2006.
That same season, the robust defender made his Royals debut in an FA Cup win over Burnley at the Madejski Stadium in January 2007, coming off the bench to man mark powerhouse striker Ade Akinbiyi before embarking on loan spells at Northampton, Bournemouth, Norwich City and Southampton.
He scored his first Reading goal in a 5-1 Carling Cup drubbing of Luton Town in August 2008 and, under Brendan Rodgers the following season, Pearce’s leadership skills were much-hailed, taking the captain’s armband from injury absentee Ivar Ingimarsson.
His crowning season came in 2011/12 under Brian McDermott. The Republic of Ireland international welded a solid partnership with Kaspars Gorkss to help win promotion back to the Premier League, picking up the supporters’ Player of the Season vote in the process.
That season he started 47 games and led the way to 17 clean sheets, also managing to chip in with a solid five goals from centre back.
The Premier League provided a very different challenge for Pearce, being rotated for Sean Morrison and newcomer Adrian Mariappa. Pearce wasn’t able to see a run of games where he could perfect his form, and the Royals were subsequently relegated but Pearce’s appearances at the top flight didn’t go unnoticed – rumours were that Liverpool were interested in the centre-back's services although an official bid was never made.
Back in the Championship and Pearcy found himself a regular again, and his presence in the back four was almost enough to instantly guide the club back to the top flight, missing out on a play-off run to Brighton on the final day.
Upon the expiry of his contract, Derby acquired the Irishman’s services on a three-year deal, ending a nine-year stay in the heart of Berkshire and leaving behind a host of fond memories.