Former Boro promotion winner Stephen Pears says Hartlepool United ‘didn’t see the best of me’

NEW ARRIVAL: Stephen Pears

NEW ARRIVAL: Stephen Pears

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STEPHEN Pears is happy to be back at Hartlepool United – almost 20 years after his last stint.

During a long and distinguished playing career, Pears featured for Manchester United and appeared more than 400 times for Middlesbrough before finishing his career with Hartlepool United.

Pears agreed a deal to join Pools – under boss Keith Houchen – and he went on to make 19 appearances for the club in the 1996-97 campaign before retiring at the age of 35.

Pears, who lives close to the club’s Maiden Castle base in Durham, added: “People at Hartlepool probably didn’t see the best of me.

“I had the hardest pre-season of my career when I went to Hartlepool and it didn’t do me any good.

“I suffered with injuries all the time I was at Hartlepool, so the fans didn’t see the best of me and I only lasted about 20 games.

“I had an operation on a hernia and had a groin problem and didn’t play again.

“I am glad to be back and it has gone full circle really.

“That was a long time ago and it is different this time, I have done this job for 16 years now and I have loads of experience.

“I am sure I can improve all of the goalkeepers, no problem. That will help the team because the better the goalkeeper, the better the team sometimes.”

Pears had been coaching goalkeepers at Middlesbrough for the past 16 years – 10 years full-time in the Academy and a further six working with the first team.