“When I was a young boy I wanted to play for Newcastle United, I wanted to wear the number nine shirt and I wanted to score goals at St. James’ Park. I’ve lived my dream and I realise how lucky I’ve been to have done that.”
Say what you like about the footballing career of Alan Shearer – he’s achieved absolutely everything he wanted to.
It seems almost ludicrous that a man with 63 caps and 30 goals for his country, a European Championship Golden Boot, two PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards and a record-breaking 260 Premier League goals including three Golden Boots – and breathe – could ever have his career achievements brought into question.
However, while no-one would ever dispute the accolades listed in the ‘personal’ section of Shearer’s CV, it’s those under ‘team awards’ that raise eyebrows.
The Premier League’s greatest ever goalscorer boasts just one piece of silverware from his 19-years of professional football. Admittedly, the accolade in question is the most prestigious in English football – a top-flight championship – however, it represents a somewhat sparse return for such a talented footballer.
Part of the reason the prolific marksman’s trophy cabinet isn't as stacked as you'd expect is because his career was strewn with nearly-moments.
From penalty heartbreak at Euro 96 and World Cup 98 to FA Cup final misery in consecutive seasons, Shearer developed an uncanny knack for clocking lofty goalscoring figures yet ultimately finding himself on the losing side
On the one occasion Shearer did get his hands on major silverware – when part of the triumphant Blackburn side crowned Premier League champions in 1995 – the England man yet again came within a whisker of seeing his dreams dashed at the final hurdle.
Kenny Dalglish’s men headed into the final day of the season boasting a two-point lead over their nearest challengers Manchester United, with Rovers knowing a win would be enough to secure their first top-flight title in 81 years.
Having taken the lead following a typically clinical Shearer drive as he notched his 34th league goal of the campaign, Dalglish’s men relinquished control of their destiny as second-half strikes from John Barnes and Jamie Redknapp opened the door for United to clinch the title.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side were unable to take advantage as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Upton Park, meaning ‘Blackburn Rovers’ would be just the second name to be inscribed on the base of the resplendent Premier League trophy.
Just 12 months on and said United side were embroiled in one of the most publicised transfer sagas of its time as they sought the signature of England’s number nine.
The move ultimately broke down with Shearer citing his love for his hometown club as the reason he opted not to move to Old Trafford. However, former United chairman Martin Edwards claims a deal had been agreed, only for Blackburn owner Jack Walker to put the brakes on the move.
"Shearer had been to Alex Ferguson's house, spoke to him and assured him he wanted to come,” claimed Edwards. “The problem, I think, was with the chairman of Blackburn, Jack Walker, who was not a great fan of Manchester United, local rivals, both Lancashire clubs.
“He did not want Alan Shearer to come to Manchester United. Shearer was quite close to Walker, who was like a father figure to him, and I don't think Alan wanted to upset him by coming to United. And I'm not sure Jack would have let him come anyway, whereas he was happy for Alan to go to Newcastle, I don't think that was a threat to him."
Many people have pondered the fantasy transfer and whether it would have worked out, and in truth we’ll never know the answer. However, while it would be easy to conclude the best striker in England would fit seamlessly into the best team in the country, the two parties might not have been as a great a match as you may think.While Shearer’s willingness to fight and work for the good of the team was never in question, the frontman enjoyed a career spent in teams that had been built around him in the hope of utilising his greatest assets - a team like Manchester United would be unlikely to afford him such luxury treatment.
Just a few years after their failed pursuit of Shearer United boasted a lethal four-pronged attack of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and it was the variety of Ferguson's forward options that helped bring such success. Many of United’s great teams have been just that – great teams. Shearer’s overpowering presence and character may not have suited the United way.
Whether the forward’s insistence on being content with his career is said through gritted teeth or not we’ll never quite know, however, his status as a legend on Tyneside will never be up for dispute.
Shearer would spend ten years at St. James’ Park, notching 206 goals in 395 appearances. Despite suffering two serious injuries which required surgery, Newcastle’s captain would finish top scorer in all competitions in every single season he spent with the Magpies.
Ironically one of the most unique facets of Shearer’s game was that he didn’t have a clear outstanding quality. Most Premier League strikers have an exceptional attribute whether it be pace, power, finishing ability or aerial prowess; seldom do players make it to the very to without one considerable quality. Shearer was a jack of all trades who defied the term ‘jack of all trades’ – he was brilliant at everything.
There wasn’t a goal Shearer didn’t have in his arsenal: free kicks, headers, wonder strikes, tap-ins, penalties, he could do the lot, not to mention providing the Premier League with one of the most simplistic yet iconic goal celebrations ever seen.
Said pose is now proudly encapsulated in a statue outside St. James’ Park in honour of Newcastle’s greatest ever striker, a man who surpassed the goalscoring exploits of Jackie Milburn, Malcolm Macdonald and Peter Beardsley.
Shearer's decision to take the reigns at Newcastle in April 2009 as the club desperately tried to avoid relegation perfectly demonstrated his deeply engrained love for the Magpies.
Ultimately the gamble backfired as the Tynesiders were condemned to a season in the second tier, however, in opting to potentially jeopardise his legacy in an attempt to reignite Newcastle's season and steer them to safety, Shearer proved he’s far from just an ex-player – he’s a proper fan; someone willing to put the club before himself.
Of course there are more decorated footballers and Shearer may look back on a missed opportunity to flood his mantelpiece with winner’s medals. However, nothing can replace the hero’s welcome he’s afforded in his hometown, and no matter how many trophies a player wins throughout their career, only Alan Shearer can claim to be the most prolific goalscorer in Premier League history.
Source : 90min