As a player, centre-half Nigel made over 180 appearances for Championship side Shrewsbury Town, before moving to Sheffield Wednesday in October 1987. In 1991 he captained the Owls’ side which won the League Cup and which was promoted to the top division. A broken leg forced him to miss both domestic cup finals in 1993. Between 1994 and 1998, he captained Bryan Robson’s Middlesbrough to two promotions and three domestic cup finals including the 1997 League Cup Final when his side lost to Leicester City.
His first managerial post was at Carlisle United, where his on-loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass preserved that club’s Football League status by famously scoring an injury time goal against Plymouth Argyle in the last 10 seconds of the 1998/99 season.
After just over two years coaching at Stoke City, Nigel next moved to West Bromwich Albion as Bryan Robson’s assistant, briefly becoming caretaker manager in September 2006. His next stop was at Newcastle United where he was assistant manager to both Glenn Roeder and Sam Allardyce and where he had two brief spells as caretaker manager. Whilst at Newcastle, Nigel also became assistant to England under-21 manager Stuart Pearce.
The Foxes manager toasts the Blue Army after a win at Southend United clinches promotion.
In February 2008, Nigel became Southampton’s manager. Ironically, he saved the Saints from relegation to League 1 by winning the last game of the season 3-2, a result which doomed Leicester City to relegation instead. Despite this, he was replaced at St. Mary’s after only three months in charge.
Leicester City, determined to escape League 1, engaged Nigel as their manager in June 2008. He appointed Craig Shakespeare and Steve Walsh to his coaching staff.
He set about rebuilding the side by bringing in players such as Michael Morrison, Lloyd Dyer, Aleksandar Tunchev, Jack Hobbs and David Martin. Max Gradel was recalled from Bournemouth.
City qualified for the Championship play-offs in their first campaign back in the second tier.
In April 2009 having topped the table since the previous November and following a run of 23 undefeated league games, the Foxes, further strengthened by the loan signings of Mark Davies and Tom Cleverley, finally clinched promotion at Southend United before going on to win the League One title convincingly.
Preparing for the first season back in the Championship, Pearson signed Chris Weale, Richie Wellens and Martyn Waghorn (on loan). Paul Gallagher was signed in September.
Heartache was to follow for Leicester at Cardiff in the play-off semi-finals.
Leicester City finished the season a creditable fifth, qualifying for the Play-off Semi-Finals. After losing 1-0 at home to Cardiff City, Pearson’s side won the return leg 3-2 after extra-time but lost the penalty shoot-out made famous by Yann Kermogant’s unfortunate failed attempt.
The following month, despite his two seasons of relative success, circumstances at the Club led to Pearson leaving Leicester to manage Hull City. He was replaced by Paulo Sousa.
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