Betfred Sport

Legends: Alan Shearer

It's time we all raised one arm to salute Alan Shearer, one of the greatest goalscorers England and the Premier League has ever seen.

It's astonishing that a man who scored so many goals only picked up one major team honour throughout his 18-year career.

Shearer would be the first to admit he is uncomfortable with the celebrity status that his goalscoring exploits brought him.

He shunned the limelight as much as possible during his playing career. But give the man a number nine shirt and a through ball and he would light up any arena.

The Gosforth-born forward had trials with several teams in his youth, including his beloved Newcastle United, but opted to join Southampton at the age of 15. Rumour has it that Newcastle scouts only saw Shearer play a match in goal. Some say their eye for a player hasn't improved much since!

At Southampton a young Shearer was mentored by another Geordie, youth coach Dave Merrington, and he settled quickly. He made his professional debut against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in March 1988. Two weeks later he bagged a hat-trick in a 4-2 win against Arsenal and earned his first professional contract.

His first couple of years in the first-team at The Dell weren't goal festivals, but his strength and ability to hold up the ball helped create goals for others.

His international career began in 1991 and he was part of the England Under-21 side that won the Toulon tournament. Shearer scored in the final against France and also won both the 'Golden Boot' and 'Player of the Tournament' awards.

England call up

Shearer smashed 21 goals in his last season with the Saints and earned a senior England call up, scoring on his debut against France and making the squad for Euro 92. It was inevitable that his talents would start to attract the attentions of bigger clubs.

He moved to Blackburn Rovers for £3.3m that same summer to join Jack Walker and Kenny Dalglish's revolution, after snubbing Manchester United among others.

At the time people questioned if Shearer could justify this big money move? Two goals on his debut against Crystal Palace, including one curled in from distance, helped him settled in.

Shearer snapped a cruciate ligament halfway through his first season at Ewood Park, but he returned for the 1993-94 season and ended up winning the 'Footballer of the Year' award after scoring 31 goals in 40 matches. That summer another striker, a certain Chris Sutton, joined Rovers and, by the end of the 1994-95 season, Shearer was a champion of England.

His partnership with Sutton, affectionately dubbed 'The SAS' by the media and fans alike, shared 49 goals. Shearer contributed 34 of them. With wide players like Jason Wilcox, Stuart Ripley and Graeme Le Saux providing the ammunition, the League title was won on the last day despite Blackburn losing to Liverpool 2-1.

In keeping with his low key off pitch persona, Shearer told waiting media that he would celebrate the title victory by "creosoting the garden fence".

Top goalscorer

He finished the league's top goalscorer again in 1995-96 with 31 goals, but Blackburn couldn't retain their crown and also crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage.

As part of England's Euro 96 squad, Shearer was under plenty of pressure to be the country's number nine. He hadn't scored in 12 games, but none of his rivals for the shirt had staked a good enough claim to dislodge him.

He formed another SAS partnership at the tournament, this time with Teddy Sheringham, and his five goals in five matches helped England get to the semi-finals, where the team were a Paul Gascoigne stud-length from making the final. Shearer's goals did win him yet another Golden Boot for his cabinet however.

Shearer was a good benchmark for any aspiring young forwards watching this tournament. He was the most feared striker in Europe at the time and his talents were courted by several high profile clubs.

It's well documented that Shearer almost became a Manchester United player again in the summer of 1996, but Newcastle were also willing to match Blackburn's £15m asking price.

Legend has it that then Toon Army manager Kevin Keegan (Shearer's boyhood hero) kept in constant contact and convinced the striker he could lead his hometown club to future glories.


Many Manchester United fans claim Shearer's two rejections were motivated simply by money. This claim makes no sense. It's not as if he was being offered peanuts to play at Old Trafford.

Shearer chose to play for the team you supported as a boy, the team which ignited his passion for football, and the chance to work with his boyhood hero.

Shearer spent 10 years at St James' Park, picking up a further 'Golden Boot' and exceeding even Jackie Milburn's 49-year goalscoring record, He ended his career with 206 goals for Newcastle.

Sadly trophies eluded Newcastle during Shearer's tenure. For all his goals and Newcastle's attacking style of play, the club finished second in the League in 1996-97 and lost two consecutive FA Cup finals in 1998 and 1999 - that was as good as it got.

Shearer's individual awards would bend the most solid piece of shelving, but it's a shame all those goals and hard work didn't yield more major honours.

Still, as the current record goalscorer since the formation of The Premier League with 260, Shearer left an indelible legacy on English football. The strength, power and precision of this goal scoring machine will be remembered for a long time.

By James Barrett

< Back to Legends