'Playing at the Olympics for Team GB is the chance of a lifetime' - Stuart Pearce

Former England captain is excited about next summer's tournament and hopes to pass that sentiment on to the many critics of the setup before player recruitment begins in earnest
England U-21 coach and Team Great Britain manager Stuart Pearce is sounding a rallying call to participating nations to support the Olympics, describing the opportunity play in the Games' football tournament as 'a fantastic honour.'

The idea of a British team has been opposed by Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland over fears that combining with a more prominent nation like England would subtract from their own national clout.

Pearce, who will manage Team GB in the forthcoming tournament, sees it more as a one-off and a unique opportunity for any footballer.

"It is the chance of a lifetime," he told reporters. "All the federations should support this team."

"I think it is a great opportunity for a squad of 18 players, plus a few on stand-by, to be part of an ideal.

"It always boils down to what is best for the player. I know for damn sure that I would want to be involved if I was still a player. I will be picking from all four nations, and that's how it should be.

The former Manchester City boss highlighted how special it could be for some older players as Pearce may pick three footballers above the age of 23 from the four British nations to participate in the tournament.

"Look at Ryan Giggs, for example," said Pearce. "Everyone has always speculated about: 'What if Ryan had been English and available to play for England.'

"Now I am not suggesting that Ryan will be in the squad, make no mistake, but what I am suggesting is that it opens up the spectrum of players who haven't played tournament football before.

"The Olympics is a fantastic honour but there are no international dates that we could fit in the calendar for a friendly before July so it will be a real stand-alone tournament, something that will be new for me and the rest of the country.

"I think there is a little bit of scepticism in some quarters but the closer we get, the more the excitement will be generated."