Last night I settled down to watch Soccer Aid 2008 at Wembley Stadium. The match, in connection with UNICEF, pits celebrities and footballers alike in a friendly to raise money for various projects around the world.
It was great to forget about football and all its issues for one night and in reality football is just a game in comparison to what this match was designed to help.
What also drew me was the fact Alan Shearer was playing. Shearer is one of my heroes as a footballer and the chance to see him play again was never going to pass me by.
Alan may have been my hero but in reality we've nothing in common apart from maybe his left foot. I'm very much an Ally McCoist type striker (in off the keeper) with minimum effort.
The match itself was to be an English 11 vs a Rest of the World 11. The English side was under the supervision of Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp who had Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, David Seaman, Graeme Le Saux, Des Walker, and Jamie Redknapp to help the English celebs overcome their rivals.
Redknapp, who'd watched Shearer in training this week, firmly believes that the Newcastle legend should still be turning out in the English Premier League!
The rest of the world squad were coached by Scotsman Kenny Dalglish. He welcomed Romario, Luis Figo, Paulo Di Canio, Claudio Taffarel, Franco Baresi, and Ian Rush to his disposal.
So what of the celebrities?
A mix of other sports, singers, actors and a chef!
Gordan Ramsey captained the rest of the world alongside Kenny Logan (retired Scotland rugby star), Nicky Byrne (Westlife and former Leeds United youth keeper), Gillle Marini (famous for his sex scene with Kim Cattrell in the recent Sex in the City movie).
There was also Santiago Cabrera of Heroes fame, cricket legend Brian Lara, former Westlife star Brian McFadden, Alistair Campbell of Tony Blair fame, and Brazillian Rodrigo Santoro who starred in Lost.
For England there was singer Craig David, Danny Jones of McFly, and TV personality Angus Deayton—who is 52!
Captained by entertainer Jonathon Wilkes, the rest of the side was Chris Fountain of Hollyoaks, Kieran Bracken who played rugby for England, Gareth Gates, Tom Felton of Harry Potter, and TV host Ben Sheppard.
The crowd packed into Wembley for this one and they weren't to be disappointed.
They didn't have to wait long for the first goal as England's Euro 96 striking pair of Shearer and Sheringham combined this time at the new Wembley as Teddy somehow beat Taffarel at his near post.
Taffarel not as hot as when he won Brazil the 94 World Cup with his penalty heroics.
The RoW hit back immediately as Brazil legend Romario found 41-year-old Di Canio who scooped the ball over Seaman. A class goal all round.
It wasn't to be Romario's night though as the failed to score for once—including missing a rather embarrassing open goal!
The one thing about playing a game with unfit celebs and a bunch of old crocks is that you'll need a good doctor.
First on the deck was chef Gordon Ramsey. A torn hamstring ended his night, after less than 10 minutes. He did get a piece of Shearer though!
Not to be undone, England's 1990 World Cup hero Des Walker limped off with a torn calf muscle.
And they say things come in threes.
Well they do as referee Pierlugi Collina had to be stretchered off after a nasty slip that left the Italian in real agony holding his knee.
Collina was replaced by Scotland's veteran referee Hugh Dallas.
What ever next.
For anyone thinking this game was all fun, Jaap Stam nailed Teddy Sheringham with a 10 yard sliding tackle that crunched the England legend. A tackle worthy of any game.
It set the tone as Romario turned into Wilkes who clattered the World Cup winner. That's a story for the grand kids.
Inter Milan officials must have been coming out in cold sweats as Figo dribbled through lunge after lunge ahead of next week's Serie A fixture.
As the game wore on the battle between Shearer and Stam came to the fore. Two former heavyweights of world football and both still as eager to enforce themselves on the other.
Funnily enough though, it wasn't Shearer who caused Stam's biggest problem of the first half. Stam and Craig David went shoulder to shoulder only for Stam to find himself on the deck—and David clean through.
Sadly the finish was woeful but seeing Stam flying was priceless!
There was some more scoring before half time as Marini (remember from Sex in the City) lobbed David Seaman.
Nothing new for Seaman, but not a bad year for Marini. Kim Cattrell and a goal at Wembley. Lucky B*****d.
What happened next though defies all logic. Scotsman Dallas awarded Shearer a penalty!
I'm honestly shocked and appalled that such a travesty could take place. Hugh Dallas I'm disappointed.
I don't need to tell you who took it or what the outcome was.
2-2 at the break.
The second half wasn't nearly as eventful as the first with tired celebs, crocked ex pro's and Luis Figo hiding in the dressing room.
The passes went everywhere, the shooting was awful but two men never stopped running.
Firstly Di Canio put the ROW ahead 3-2, to cap a great performance, before I got what I was waiting for.
Danny Jones put in a perfect hanging cross that found that man Alan Shearer hanging above Jaap Stam. A perfect header by my hero who was well and truly winning his battle with the big Dutchman.
The games was won by a free kick that evaded everyone and found its way into the net past Patrick Kielty in the ROW goal. Shearer claimed it for his hat trick but it was Wilkes' goal.
An entertaining night for football lovers the world over. The chance to see the stars of years gone by is always a pleasure and one I truly enjoyed.
Some of the celebs looked half decent too with Danny Jones, Nicky Byrne, and Ben Sheppard standing out.
Find out more about the cause at www.itv.com/socceraid.