STUART Pearce is confident he has the mental toughness to cope with being a returning hero.
It is not a phrase Pearce would use, but there is no escaping the fact that the former Reds captain remains a cult figure at Forest – a club for whom he made over 500 appearances as a player during a 12-year stay, twice winning the League Cup under Brian Clough.
He also had a spell as caretaker boss during the 1996-97 season following the departure of Frank Clark.
The 51-year-old (left) made an emotional return to the City Ground yesterday as he was confirmed as the club's next manager.
Pearce will take up his role as Billy Davies' permanent successor in the summer after signing a two-year contract.
There is an old adage that you should never go back. Asked if there was a fear he may tarnish his reputation and popularity among Forest fans, Pearce said: "If people have nice things to say about me, then that's very nice. But what I did as a player is totally irrelevant. I want to make Fawaz (Al-Hasawi, the owner and chairman) very proud of me.
"The only thing I strive for is to be better tomorrow than I am today. I would not suggest I'm a standalone, but I have a strong mentality."
Pearce turned down the job for personal reasons last week following initial talks.
However, he was persuaded by Al-Hasawi to resurrect discussions. A compromise was reached for him to begin in the role in the summer and for academy manager Gary Brazil to continue on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.