A Canadian livewireEven before he arrived at The Hawthorns, Paul Peschisolido was already a pretty well travelled footballer.
Rarely have Albion fans been so pleased to sign a player because in the seasons leading up to him joining us, if Pesch was on the opposition’s team sheet, you could guarantee that he would stick the ball into the Albion net on at least one occasion, home or away, come rain or shine.
Quick off the mark, devastating over 10 or 12 yards, Peschisolido was always a livewire player in and around the 18 yard box, a player who would run the channels all day, who would chase down lost causes and would be a living nightmare to defenders. Feisty and fiery, Pesch was a complete handful.
Back in those far off days of a decade ago, international football placed far more competing demands on clubs than it does now because there weren’t the same kind of breaks in the calendar for World Cup games.
Matches would only be postponed if you lost three players or more to an international call up, so Pesch’s trips to Canada were fraught with controversy, such that in all his time at The Hawthorns, the only international games he played were in World Cup qualifiers in the Concacaf group ahead of France ’98.
Those that Pesch did make it were pretty lively encounters mind, nine internationals encompassing three goals and two sendings off as he came up against opponents as diverse as Panama, Cuba. Mexico, the USA, El Salvador and Jamaica, the Reggae Boyz on their way to qualifying.
There was no such luck for the Canadians who covered some miles over the course of those games – from home games in Edmonton and Vancouver to away trips to Mexico City, Panama City, San Salvador and Kingston.
Things started well in August ’96, Pesch scoring in every game as Canada beat Panama and Cuba twice, but things turned sour in October when he got his marching orders in the 0-0 draw in Panama.
Thumpings away in Mexico and the USA followed in March ’97 and Canada’s hopes were gone, extinguished when Paul was sent off in the 0-0 draw with El Salvador.
Life at The Hawthorns was more successful, Pesch helping to keep things ticking over up front in the absence of Bob Taylor, then on sabbatical at Bolton Wanderers.
Pesch and Andy Hunt were useful strike partners up front, later to be augmented by the young Lee Hughes.
Fifteen goals in 33 league starts was a handy return from Pesch in his Albion career and it was sad to see it end in confusion and controversy, Pesch dropping down a division to play for Fulham under Ray Wilkins and then Kevin Keegan, a pocket dynamo of a striker whose style wasn’t unlike Peschisolido’s. That’s no mean compliment.