Alan Shearer – Local Hero

Every child needs a role model. It just so happens that mine turned out to be one of the greatest football players of all time.  One that does not get enough credit for what he achieved in the game.  A man I will always look up to and respect.  He did not play football for the money, he did it because he loved the game. He loved to see the ball hit the back of the net. Adored by a whole city and a man who lived his dream.  His name – Alan Shearer.

I consider myself to be very fortunate.  I grew up watching not only one of the very best strikers around, but one that was different to the rest.  Alan Shearer connected with the fans because he is one of us.   Rejecting Barcelona and Manchester United to move back home to Newcastle in 1996.  In doing so he not only became my hero, he became a local hero.  Supporting a football club is all about dreams and aspirations, and for Newcastle United fans, those dreams focus on the famous number nine shirt.  Newcastle United’s history is dominated by legends of the past who wore the shirt with pride, in doing so scored hundreds of goals.  Jackie Milburn and Malcolm Macdonald were past number nines that were worshipped on Tyneside, Shearer wanted to be the same.  Shearer grew up in Newcastle and supported the club, he knows what the club means to the fans.  Everything revolves around football in Newcastle.  If the team lose, you can feel it in the city, when Newcastle win the city is bouncing.   When Shearer signed for Newcastle he said, ‘The money won’t change me – I’m only a sheet-metal worker’s son from Newcastle’.  When Shearer uttered those words, I got a sense that he was just a normal guy living the Geordie dream for all of us.

Shearer didn’t win a trophy with Newcastle, but he won the hearts of all the fans that watched him.  Shearer had the ability to score all types of goals, so aggressive in the air, winning the majority of his aerial battles. His fierce shots from distance almost ripping the net as the ball flew past a helpless keeper. He scored free-kicks and penalties, headers, volleys you name it Shearer did it. Ruthless, brave and clinical, Shearer would go on to become Newcastle United’s all time leading goalscorer.  Shearer scored 206 goals for Newcastle, overtaking another club legend in Jackie Milburn.   Alan Shearer is also the Premier League’s leading goalscorer, a record that will be difficult to break.

Shearer would probably have won a lot of trophies at Manchester United, something that Shearer does not regret – he lived his dream, Shearer grew up dreaming of playing for Newcastle and wearing the famous number nine shirt.  Not many people can say they lived their dream.  Shearer not only lived his dream, he broke records doing so. A true leader on and off the field, Shearer captained each team he played for including his country.  In stark contrast to the players of today, Shearer showed pride and passion every time he pulled on the England shirt.  If you look at the players that play in his position in the modern era, not many come close to matching Shearer’s abilities.  Shearer was an old fashioned centre forward, rarely seen in the modern game.  Every defenders’ nightmare, they would come off the pitch knowing they had been in one of the toughest games of their careers.

Shearer is not mentioned enough amongst the greatest ever players.  To consistently perform at the standard he did over the course of his career is not easy, however Shearer made it look that way.  A man who will always be regarded as a true Newcastle legend, should also be regarded as a true legend of the game we all know and love.

Following the dismissal of then manager Graeme Souness during Shearer’s final season as a Newcastle player, his role changed from being just a player to player-coach, while he also carried out many ambassador roles for the club, Shearer was adamant that he wanted to feel he was doing enough for the club to earn his money.  That is one of the many reasons why Newcastle fans adore him, Shearer always has the clubs best interests at heart. One that would never shy away from a challenge Shearer would go on to manage Newcastle United for the final games of the 2009 season. Shearer failed to steer his beloved Newcastle away from relegation.  His willingness and determination to try and save his hometown club shows what an incredible man he his.  Many would have distanced themselves from the job, not Shearer he risked his legendary status and did everything he could to save the club.  The appointment of Shearer as Newcastle manager came too late, the club were relegated.  Newcastle owner Mike Ashley made the decision to opt against appointing Shearer as manager on a full time basis.  One day after Mike Ashley has left the club, maybe Alan Shearer will consider going back into management and managing his beloved Newcastle once more.

Shearer is a humble man, one that stayed away from the limelight as much as possible during his playing career.  On the pitch however, he would light up any stadium.  A true role model for the younger fans that watched him every week.  Shearer is the type of player I sorely miss in the modern game.  He would only stay down if a serious injury occurred, these days you often see players roll around as if they have been shot.  As tough as they come Shearer would teach the modern day player a thing or two!

There is now an Alan Shearer statue outside St James’ Park, and in time I am sure a stand will be named after this local hero.

Alan Shearer – thank you for being a true inspiration to me. For showing me that if you work hard and believe in yourself you can reach the very top. Most of all thank you for the memories.