Curtains on a great career
As Newcastle have struggled to really impose themselves on the Premiership in recent years and as he refused to allow himself to be dragged back on to the international stage he quit in 2000 it's been easy to forget Alan Shearer. Now his career has been ended three games before the end of his last season in professional football we ought to look back on a stellar career and a great, classic English centre forward.
His scoring record as regards not only his time at Newcastle, not only his time in the England team but across his whole career is phenomenal and, in recent times, second to none. His grit, his determination, movement, and ability to develop partnerships be they with other good strikers - Chris Sutton, Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand, Michael Owen - have all served him well. More than that he was a sweet striker of the ball and excellent in the air. He allowed teams to play off and around him in such a fluid manner.
Most of all I will remember the way he turned his form around for England during the 1996 European Championships. Going into Euro '96, many were quick to knock England and, in particular, Shearer, who had not scored for his country since September two years before. Once the tournament began there was no holding him back and he ended up its leading scorer. The resilience and belief he must have had to nurture during the torrid time of attacks that preceded England beginning their first game against Switzerland will always inspire me. And yet he did. And yet he performed so brilliantly.