The legend of former Newcastle United midfielder Alan Shearer is one of the most enduring in English football, with a legendary career spanning almost two decades.
Shearer, who played in more than 100 games for the Magpies and won two Premier League titles and two FA Cups, died on Wednesday aged 85.
But the legend of the man who once labelled the game “football for the sake of football” is still alive and well in the hearts of Newcastle fans.
In a series of interviews published in the Lad Bible, former Newcastle striker and current BBC pundit Alan Shearers autobiography has been written to mark his passing.
The story of how Shearer got his start in the game, his first match for Newcastle in 1977 and his early career, begins in 1970 when he was a 17-year-old teenager, living in Northampton, south-west England.
“I used to spend all day in the club shop, I was a bit of a football nut,” he told the Lad bible.
“I was very close to the boys in the youth teams, and I used to see a few of them at games.
I used the excuse that I had a big crush on one of them.”
Shearer’s parents were “huge fans” of football and he was “so into the sport that when he got to Newcastle I was his second choice.”
At 17 he was loaned to a club in the UK, and when he arrived, he was an apprentice.
“It was a very big club, Newcastle United.
I wasn’t sure how I would go about it, I hadn’t played for the club in years,” he said.
But his confidence was building, and he started making his first-team debut.
Shearers first goal came against Ipswich Town in 1979, as a 16-year old, and was an immediate success.
His goals came in all kinds of ways, including a goal-saving tackle against Birmingham City in 1978, which was described by Newcastle’s manager, Bob Paisley, as “the best goal I have seen”.
Shearing made his senior debut for Newcastle at the age of 17 against Wigan Athletic in 1981, and made an immediate impact with the Magps, scoring 10 goals in the 1978/79 season and making his full debut against Arsenal in the FA Cup in 1980.
And the legend continued.
Shearer scored a hat-trick against Arsenal that season, a goal that prompted a £100,000 offer from West Ham United, who also had a player named Alan Sheares in the squad, who was signed by the club.
The player was named Alan “Alan” Shearer after Shearer’s father, who had played for Liverpool.
After the transfer to Newcastle, Shearer became a regular in the Magpie’s team, scoring 11 goals in his debut season.
He had also made his debut for the Black Cats against Sunderland in 1980, which ended in a 2-2 draw, which would decide the title.
However, Shearers goals were not good enough for the big club.
“That was the last time I ever scored a goal, I scored three in a row,” he explained.
The Newcastle manager, Alan Sheaffer, had a reputation for being a very good goal scorer, but it was not always that way.
“There was a time when Alan was scoring as much as he was doing for Newcastle.
When I went back to Newcastle after the Sunderland game he had scored more goals than I had for Newcastle.”
After scoring just three goals in a league season in 1981/82, Sheares only had two more seasons with Newcastle, scoring five goals in 82 appearances, including the Champions League final in 1984.
Alan Shearer scored his first goal in the League Cup against Leeds United in 1986, but Newcastle were knocked out of the competition by Arsenal, before the Mags won the title the following season.
Shearers career would end on a sour note when he suffered a broken leg against Leeds.
Despite his injuries, he managed to keep Newcastle in the Premier League for the next five seasons.
“In my career I have scored 10 goals, but I am just happy that I am alive and kicking,” he wrote.
A month later he was awarded the Champions Leagues Player of the Year award, after helping Newcastle reach the Champions Cup final in 1987.
Herzog’s book is filled with anecdotes and photographs from his time in the north-east of England, from his first meeting with Newcastle boss Alan Shearing, to his playing career and his later days in the English game.
I have always believed I had to prove myself at Newcastle,” he recalled.”
We were in the final of the Champions Trophy and they were the last team to beat us, so it was all about me, whether I scored or not.
“My first goal was in the cup final and it went down to five minutes, and we were on a 2–0 lead.