In my second article on great footballers, I will be looking at a footballer who inspires everyone around him—not just his teammates, but the manager, the chairman, the board, the backroom staff...
And most importantly of all, the fans.
So, who is this Great Footballer?
I think you all know. He's been in the press a lot recently, in connection with a vacant managerial position.
That's right, Alan Shearer.
Shearer is an incredibly powerful figure in Tyneside. I'm not sure many true football fans understand these days how much of an effect an inspirational player can have on the fans of a club, but in Alan Shearer, Newcastle United fans had a winner.
Shearer is the top Premier League goalscorer of all time, collecting 260 goals over the course of his career, with a frankly superb 206 goals scored for Newcastle in his ten years at the club.
It is a shame that his enthusiasm, dedication, and passion for his club did not reward hm with a major trophy—but an FA Cup runners-up medal is still no disgrace, by far!
He was a trophy, an icon for the people of Tyneside—and the shadow of his ten-year reign hangs over anyone who takes up the position of a Newcastle striker. Even now, we speculate whether he shall join another of Newcastle's heroes, Kevin Keegan—either as a striker coach, or (whisper it) Kev's number two.
His last year in football was a graceful one, which ended somewhat prematurely, but guaranteed his place in Newcastle's—and England's—footballing History.
For on the 17th April 2006, with three games remaining in his final season as a player, Shearer suffered a tear to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee after a collision during a 4–1 win at Sunderland, in which he scored his 206th goal for the Magpies. The injury caused him to miss those final three games, effectively ending his career.
On the 22nd April, 2006, Shearer confirmed his retirement as a player. His final season in football had brought him a respectable (for a striker in his mid 30s), 10 goals in 32 league games.
Since that day he has never quite left Tyneside - songs about him are still sung to this day during matches at St. James, and a huge banner still hangs inside, saying "Thanks for ten great years."
Shearer never really left Newcastle.
I wonder if he ever will.