Rams boss Billy Davies chased Stephen Pearson for six months before persuading Gordon Strachan to let him leave Celtic Park and join Derby. The 24-year-old repaid the faith shown in him by Davies by scoring the winner in the play-off final yesterday.
The Scotsman picked a good time to score his first goal for the Rams tapping home Giles Barnes cross. ‘I was delighted,’ said the Scot. ‘But it was a great team effort from all the boys.
‘I do not remember too much about the goal to be honest.
‘I just saw Giles Barnes with the ball out on the right wing and knew I had to gamble, so I just tried to get across my man and managed to slide it home.’
Pearson is looking forward to the Premier League next season and is urging manager Davies to stay and lead the club in next season’s Premiership.
Pearson said: ‘He is a young manager and he is going to be in demand now, but it is crucial the club keep hold of the gaffer.
‘All you have to do is think about the change which has happened at the club over the last year to see how important he is.
‘The gaffer had tried to sign me a few times before January and, for whatever reason, it had not worked out.
‘But, when I talked to him again before I signed in January, he told me the plan was to take Derby into the Premiership.
‘I am only 24 but he has already been a major factor in my career.’
After the game Rams boss Davies revealed he predicted Pearson would be his match-winner. He had struggled for a number of weeks with a foot problem after joining from Celtic for £650,000 in January, but he was in the right place at the right time to send the Rams to the Promised Land.
Davies said: ‘I told the chairman [Peter Gadsby] last week that Pearson would score the winning goal and I was delighted when it was Pearson.
‘It was always about the first goal – I told the players it would be crucial – and it was important for us to defend and be organised.
‘I just had a funny feeling and I said it to Pearson for a week or so.
‘He’s a fantastic young player, with great athleticism and great at getting into the box, and I just felt he would be the match-winner.
‘I kept saying to him that his time would come. It’s great for him and everyone and it’s a very proud moment.’