Super striker and a thorough gentleman

Personality : Alan Shearer looks back on his exploits

Super striker and a thorough gentleman

The unmistakable voice of commentators yelling ‘Shearerrrrrrrr’ in absolute euphoria was an integral part of 260 Premier League goals.

An iconic moment that best describes the aforementioned statement unfolded on a frigid New Year’s Day at St James’ Park in 2002.

Trailing Everton 1-0 until the 86th minute, the stage was set for a true Geordie boy to further make his case in Newcastle folklore. And cometh the hour, cometh the man – Alan Shearer.

Shola Ameobi’s headed knockdown fell to the talismanic striker who hit an inch-perfect volley into the top right corner, past Richard Wright.

It was just the injection Newcastle needed and Craig Bellamy went on to score a late winner to spark the Toon into wild celebrations.

“I definitely think that was easily the best goal I have scored in my career. I may have scored other goals that were important, but make no mistake, this was my best strike.

“To this day, I don’t even know why I hit it! When Shola headed it my way, it was more a question of why not. 99 out of a 100 times, I would have hit that into the fans. But the second I hit it, I knew where it was headed and it was to be seen the goalkeeper trying to save it. In my head, I was thinking, you’ve got no chance of stopping that,” the former England captain recollected fondly during the Premier League FANPARK event in Bengaluru on Friday.

A true legend of the game immortalised by a statue outside the home of his boyhood club in the heart of Newcastle, displays the admiration of a man who, despite standing at just six-foot tall, was seen as a giant in terms of his footballing ability.

Truth of that can be judged by the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson made no bones about wanting to sign Shearer on more than one occasion, so much so that that the Scotsman had even made a mention of it in his autobiography.

But being a true blue Newcastle lad, Shearer, said he had no regrets at the end of his career.

“No, I don’t regret it at all. I know I probably would have won more trophies, there’s no doubt about that. There was only one clear cut opportunity I had of joining Sir Alex and that was before I moved to Newcastle.

“This question always get thrown around but it is purely about loyalty in football. For me, it was about going home and playing at home for ten years and for my football club where I stood on the terraces as a boy.”

Adding that there was even more incentive since his father was big fan of another Newcastle legend Jackie Milburn and the fact that he went on to obliterate Milburn’s goal tally at the club.

“Milburn was my dad’s hero and when I went on to break his record, that was really special for me. I even have a statue outside the ground, so there are absolutely no regrets. If you ask me to make a decision today, I would definitely go back and make the same decision,” he reaffirmed saying that loyalty is an attribute lacking in modern players.

Leaving home at the tender age of 15 wasn’t easy for the Premier League’s record goal-scorer but he maintains that it was the best decision he made in his career. Scouted by Southampton’s Jack Hixon, Shearer was part of the youth squad for two years before repaying Hixon’s faith with a hat-trick against Arsenal on his full debut. To date, his exploits in that fixture have retained him in record books as the youngest player to score a treble in the top division, at 17 years and 240 days.

“It was a great decision to move out because I had to grow up, fend for myself and knuckle down and work hard. It wasn’t all glamorous as I was given an apprenticeship where I had to clean the stands, the toilets, boots et cetera. But it certainly was a great learning curve and taught me respect,” revealed the 47-year-old stressing that it also taught him how to stay grounded.

His prolific goal scoring aside, Shearer divulged that his greatest memory on the pitch would be when he skippered the Three Lions.

“I love goal scoring but apart from that, the best experience for me was to lead the national side. The feeling is surreal when you walk out to a packed Wembley stadium with the captain’s arm-band on and listen to the national anthem.”

When the frontman sets records it remains and three of the benchmarks he has set through his career – 260 Premier League goals in 441 appearances, 11 hat-tricks and the youngest to score a hat-trick – don’t look like they will be beaten anytime soon.

Responding to a query on the same, he cheekily quips, “I hope no one beats that anytime soon.”

On a more serious note, he believes that it will be broken at some point in time but isn’t sure of how soon that will happen.

“If players can stay fit, then it can be broken. There are a lot of ifs. Maybe Harry Kane, but that is if he stays injury-free, if Tottenham Hotspur can be successful and if the big boys from Spain, Italy or France don’t come in for him.

“If he stays for the next ten years, he will have a good chance of breaking two of the records.”

While Shearer would effortlessly incite fear in opponent goalkeepers during his playing days, it is hard today to look at the man with anything other than respect and adulation. A fierce competitor on the pitch and perfect gentleman off it is what will keep the Geordie favourite’s legacy alive.

 


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