WHEN you think of football's hardmen, you tend to think of Vinnie Jones, Duncan Ferguson, Pepe…
But what about the truly hard footballing figures?
Look no further than the former Premier League boss who fought off a pack of hungry wolves with nothing but his bare hands.
The story came to light in early 2015, when the man himself fessed up to the outrageous encounter.
The boss – still managing in the Championship – took a trip to Transylvania during some well-earned down-time in 2007.
Transylvania – a mountainous area of Romania – is famously the home of Count Dracula and is awash with myths about vampires and werewoves.
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And the manager's trip the notorious region almost led to disaster after he was cornered by a pack of vicious wolves.
The manager in question?
None other than Bristol City chief Nigel Pearson.
During a trek through the wilderness, ex-Leicester boss Pearson claims to have been surrounded by FIVE savage beasts.
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To escape, Pearson – who famously called a reporter an "ostrich" during his time as Foxes boss -gouged one wolf's eye and broke another's jaw, with the rest scattering.
In a Sky Sports documentary in 2015, he claimed: "There were five of them – what they do is that one goes for you and the others circle around until one of them can bring you down.
"What they essentially do is rip the throat out.”
Pearson said he initially threw himself into a patch of brambles hoping they would leave him alone.
But he was forced to defend himself by using his walking poles as they continued to advance.
He continued: "I backed myself against a tree – I thought ‘I don’t want to get attacked from behind’. I was absolutely goosed by this point."
Old pal Stuart Pearce – then Pearson's boss as part of the England Under-21s setup – even backed up the incredible tale.
The former England left-back said: “Every summer [Pearson] used to go away on his own on a walking holiday.
“One year he went to Transylvania. Got the train and went out to Transylvania and was warned if he goes walking in the mountains there are wolves and bears that type of thing.
“He got surrounded by a pack of wolves, backed himself up to a hedge to stop them getting behind him and gouged one of their eyes out and broke another’s jaw and managed to get away.
“He said if they managed to get behind him they would have killed him.”
Peter Crouch even got in on the tale during his Radio 5 Live podcast in 2020 when discussing where footballers and managers normally go on holiday.
DJ Chris Stark, recounting the tale, revealed: “I saw this story – and it came from Stuart Pearce, who had Nigel Pearson as his assistant whilst they were at England Under-21s.
“And this is an amazing story – every summer [Pearson] used to go away on his own on a walking holiday.
"One year he went to Transylvania and was warned if he goes walking in the mountains that there are wolves and bears.
“And apparently – and I can imagine Pearson going through this – he got surrounded by a pack of wolves.
"He backed himself up to a hedge to stop them getting behind him and then he gouged one of their eye's out, broke another wolf’s jaw and then managed to escape.”
In response, Crouch could only muster the words: “That’s incredible.”
When asked if he thought Pearson had truly scrapped with the wolves, Crouchy said: “I wouldn’t put is past him…
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"Isn’t it Dracula you have to worry about there?
“He's gone on a walking holiday – they advised him not to and he’s done it, got surrounded by wolves… but it sounds mad doesn’t it?”
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