Alexander James Pearce (born 9 November 1988) is a professional footballer who plays as a centre back for Millwall on loan from Derby County and the Irish national team.
Pearce was born in Wallingford, Oxfordshire and attended The Oratory School in Woodcote until Sixth form, when he dedicated his time towards attending Reading's youth academy. He signed a three year professional contract with Reading on 23 October 2006 and made his Reading debut in an FA Cup third round game against Burnley on 9 January 2007, coming off the bench to replace Ívar Ingimarsson in the 74th minute.
On 9 February 2007, he joined Northampton Town on a month's loan. He made his league debut in Northampton's 1–0 loss to Nottingham Forest, but received praise from manager Stuart Gray for his performance. He scored his first goal for Northampton in a 2–1 win over Scunthorpe on 8 April 2007. His loan was extended to the end of the 2006–07 season on 8 March 2007, returning to Reading in time to skipper the reserve team in the Premier Reserve League national final. In the final, Reading were crowned champions after a 2–0 win over Bolton Wanderers, with goals from Alan Bennett and Pearce, to secure the trophy that had been won by Manchester United for the previous two years.
On 2 November 2007, Pearce joined Bournemouth on loan until 8 December, which was subsequently extended to 3 January 2008. On 21 December 2007, it was announced that Pearce had signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract. Nick Hammond said Pearce "has a superb work ethic and mentality which gives him every chance of a long and successful career here at Reading."
On his return from loan he played in the FA Cup fourth round replay against Spurs on 15 January 2008 at the Madejski Stadium, with the new England boss Fabio Capello in the stands. Pearce was handed his full debut at the start of the game, and put in a very solid performance before being sacrificed at half time as Steve Coppell made a tactical change and went from 5–4–1 to 4–4–2. Coppell said "People will think the substitution was based on performance, but that couldn't be further from the truth. We just had a game plan and stuck to it."
Pearce made another loan move on 31 January 2008, this time joining Championship side Norwich City until the end of the 2007–08 season. Upon his return to Reading he scored his first goal for them in a League Cup win over Luton Town on 26 August 2008. He then went on loan to Southampton on 31 October 2008 until the end of December. He made his debut at Preston North End on 1 November, scoring Southampton's first goal as they came from 2–0 down to claim a 3–2 victory.
Following the departure of Reading's manager Steve Coppell and the arrival of his replacement, Brendan Rodgers, Pearce was appointed Reading's vice captain. Due to an injury to new club captain Ívar Ingimarsson, Pearce started the 2009–10 in the first team side as captain. Pearce won Player of the Season for Reading in the 2011–12 Football League Championship winning season and was solid at the back all year whilst scoring goals of his own. Pearce signed a new two-year contract on 21 June 2013.
Despite being born in England, Pearce qualified to play for Scotland through his parents, and represented them at youth level. He made his debut for the Scotland U21 team in their 4–1 defeat to Norway U21 in Kilmarnock on 20 May 2008.
Also eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland, having played for Ireland at schoolboy level he made the switch to represent Ireland. In October 2011, he stated "The country I have always wanted to play for is Ireland."
Pearce was called into the full Ireland squad on 8 September 2012 ahead of an international friendly against Oman three days later. He scored a goal on his debut in a 4–1 victory on 11 September 2012. On 3 September 2014, he scored the second goal of a 2–0 win over the same opposition.
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