Friday, November 26, 2010

Focus On : Shearer On Shearer

Alan Shearer has justified the status he once held as the world's most expensive footballer by scoring more goals than anyone else since the launch of the Premier League in 1992. Shearer is the first player since the 1930s, the heyday of the bustling, robust English centre-forward, to score more than 30 goals in the top division in three successive seasons.
His tally of 34 goals in 1994-95, the middle season of his outstanding run, helped Blackburn Rovers win the championship title for the first time in 81 years. 'Alan is a player in a class of his own,' Kenny Dalglish, the then Blackburn manager, said. 'He lifts the whole team and turns draws into victories. In a word: priceless.' John Barnes, the England winger, described Shearer's value to his team as 'incalculable'. Shearer stands alone as the leading goalscorer in the history of Premier League. Between 1992-93 and the end of 2004-05, he scored 250 league goals for Blackburn and Newcastle United. His outstanding form during the mid-1990s had raised his value in the transfer market seven-fold in the space of five years: from £2.2 million, the fee Dalglish paid Southampton in 1992, to the £15.6 million fee Newcastle United invested in 1996. Shearer has been transferred twice in his career: the first of his transfer fees was a British record; the second was a world record sum for a footballer. It was widely reported that Blackburn refused to sell Shearer to Manchester United earlier in 1997 for fear that his arrival at Old Trafford would make Alex Ferguson's side unbeatable. Jack Walker, the millionaire benefactor at Ewood Park, even offered to make Shearer the player-manager of Rovers, at the age of just 25, in a last-ditch effort to keep him at the club, but the lure of Newcastle United proved too strong for a player who had supported the club as a boy.

 Within minutes of the opening of the London Stock Exchange on Monday, 28 July 1997, the shares of Newcastle United dipped eight pence, wiping millions off the club's value. The explanation for the sharp dip in value was obvious: two days earlier Alan Shearer was seriously injured in a pre-season friendly. He would be sidelined for six months, and the reaction of the market highlighted his importance to the team. John Barnes, a team-mate at Newcastle said: 'Alan is a nightmare to defend against because if a cross comes in he will always be there. He is very clinical at hitting the target, and he can also drop his shoulder and score from 30 yards.' Fully aware of Newcastle United's long tradition of great centre-forwards, he made one demand of Keegan before signing:   Shearer wanted to wear the number nine shirt. Hughie Gallacher, Jackie Milburn, Wyn Davies and Malcolm Macdonald, and now Shearer. 'As a Newcastle fan, I knew what it meant,' he said. On 9 April 1988, Alan Shearer made a stunning impact on top-flight football, scoring a hat-trick on his debut for Southampton as a raw youngster aged 17 years and 240 days. It made him the youngest player ever to score a hat-trick in the top division. But the next phase of his education proved a little more difficult: he managed only 20 more goals in 1 17 League appearances over the following four years. It was a modest return even at a club struggling at the wrong end of the table.

His potential, however, was obvious. In 11 games for the England Under-21s, he scored 13 goals. He then graduated through the ranks to England 'B' and full international level. On his England debut, he scored a goal in the 2—0 win over France t Wembley in February 1992. It was a signal for his career to take off. Following his transfer to Blackburn Rovers, his scoring rate rose sharply. In 138 appearances for Rovers, he scored 112 goals, an exceptional return to the top division. In 1995-96 he needed one more goal to record his third 30-goal haul for the third successive season, a record in the Premiership. Despite being troubled by a groin injury that needed surgery, he was determined to achieve his target, and with only four weeks remaining before the start of Euro '96, he took a risk. He delayed the operation for several days to allow him one more chance. Shearer scored the goal he needed against Wimbledon, and then worked tirelessly to get himself fit for England. We all know what happened next.

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