Alan Shearer: The Quintessential Hometown Hero
Alan Shearer was never a one-club man like Paolo Maldini, nor could he boast the same silverware as some of his compatriots and peers. What he did have, however, was an unshakable loyalty to his hometown club, Newcastle United, and over the course of his ridiculously prolific career, he achieved godlike status on Tyneside.
All Roads Lead to Newcastle
Despite growing up virtually on Newcastle United’s doorstep, his local side only recognized Shearer’s talent after he had already been snapped up by Southampton, a club from the other side of the country. After coming through the Saints’ famed academy, Shearer was slowly integrated into the first team, but he soon rose to prominence through his goal scoring.
In 1992, he became the most expensive British footballer when he was lured to Blackburn, whose wealthy owner assembled a star-studded squad with the aim of challenging for the title. And challenge for the title the Rovers did. After finishing as runner-up in 1993/94, Blackburn won the Premier League in 1995 thanks to Shearer’s 34 goals. By December 1995, the striker had already racked up 100 goals for Blackburn, but things began to unravel for his swanky team, and with plenty of clubs vying for his services, Shearer departed.
The King of Tyneside
He had offers from the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid, but Shearer instead signed for his boyhood club Newcastle for a world-record fee of £15 million. It seemed to be the perfect storm: the local boy returns home to take the team he grew up supporting to the next level. Newcastle had just finished as runner-up and was managed by the legend Kevin Keegan—Shearer’s hero—so, naturally, the next step was to win the Premier League.
However, that never materialized. Despite unquestionably being one of England’s biggest clubs, tangible success has always eluded the Magpies, and not even Shearer could break that curse. Nevertheless, the striker hit like a bomb, winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot in his debut season—his third consecutive top-scorer honor. Unfortunately, injuries plagued him, and Newcastle’s form dipped massively with the club becoming increasingly reliant on its talismanic striker.
Shearer fired the Magpies into the Champions League in 2002 and again the following year, but that was as far as he could take them. After a decade at Newcastle, he retired in 2006 as the club’s and the Premier League’s all-time record goal scorer, while also enjoying a status of divine reverence in his hometown that even his ill-fated managerial stint in 2009 couldn’t tarnish.
Illustration by: Inakivector