My Favourite Player: Alan Shearer

– by Tom Anstey

Footballer, pundit, ambassador, legend – is there anything Alan Shearer can’t do? A word to the wise – if you say manager you’ll get a slap around the face from me! Simply put, in my eyes Alan Shearer is the greatest ever Englishman to put on a football shirt. Not only is he still the Premier League’s best ever goalscorer but he also shows today’s modern footballer what it means to be loyal to your club.

A poster at St James' Park, erected to mark the end of Alan Shearer's Newcastle career. Photo: Bill Henderson

When people ask me, as a southerner, “why do you support Newcastle?”, my answer is simply “Alan Shearer”. When I think of Alan Shearer there is no one who is his equal. You could argue that the likes of Leo Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo, from a flair based perspective, are better than him but nobody, and I mean nobody, could finish the ball as well as him. From the first goal to the very last, Shearer finished with precision, power and technique.

Shearer began playing football in midfield and actually played his first game at St James’ Park playing for his school in a seven-a-side tournament before joining amateur football club Wallsend Football Club. It was there that he was spotted by Southampton scouts. Shearer would have successful trials at West Brom, Man City, and Newcastle before signing for Southampton in April of 1986.

Shearer made his full Premier League debut in a match against Arsenal, where he made the headlines after scoring a sensational hat-trick. In doing so, he became the youngest player to score a top flight hat-trick, at the age of 17 years and 240 days, breaking the record previously held by one Jimmy Greaves.

It was the 1991-92 season though where Shearer really rose to national prominence. Thirteen goals in 41 appearances for Southampton led to an international call up in which Shearer scored.

Shearer then moved on to Blackburn for a fee of just £3.6million which, surprisingly, at the time was the British transfer record. An injury meant he missed most of his first season for Blackburn but he still managed 16 goals in the 21 games that he did play. The following season would see Shearer named Player of the Year but it was the season after that where Shearer would write his name in Premier League history. The partnership of Sutton and Shearer would prove unstoppable as Blackburn would take the Premier League trophy from Manchester United on the final day of the season.

Euro 96 was Shearers crowning moment on the international stage where, although England would fall short, Shearer would be the competition’s top scorer with five goals.

Following the tournament Shearer was linked with a move to Manchester United, but at the same time his childhood favourites Newcastle stepped in and swooped for Shearer with a record £15million transfer to St James’ Park. For the third season in a row Shearer finished the top scorer in the Premier League with 25 goals in 31 games. However Newcastle would just miss out on the Premier League title, finishing second behind Man Utd.

Although he would never win a trophy with Newcastle, Shearer would go on to be a club legend, scoring 206 goals in 395 appearances and in the process becoming the highest scoring Premier League player of all time.
Shearer will be remembered not only for his magnificent goal tally, but also his strength, heading ability and powerful strike.

He truly is one of the greats of the English game and maybe one day, aside from his Match of the Day punditry, he will turn his hand to management. An unsuccessful eight-game stint as manager of Newcastle, which saw them relegated, will not likely turn his head away from the Magpies hot seat which is his destiny.

If you look up legend in a dictionary it is spelt S-H-E-A-R-E-R and that’s why Alan Shearer is my favourite ever player.

– Tom Anstey is a Journalism graduate, currently studying for an MA in Sports Journalism at the University of Lincoln.

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