Date:Thursday May 11 2006
Alan Shearer brought the curtain down on his competitive Newcastle career and then insisted 'I've fulfilled my dream'. Shearer had been due to quit at the end of the season but his retirement has been brought forward by injury forcing him to miss the last three league games of the campaign.
The 35-year-old former England striker, who also has a testimonial to come against Celtic on May 11, suffered a torn medial knee ligament in the Magpies' 4-1 derby win at Sunderland on Easter Monday bringing an end to his 10 years on Tyneside.
Shearer scored 206 times for Newcastle, passing Jackie Milburn's club goalscoring record of 200 in February and claiming the final one with a penalty at Sunderland before being injured in a challenge with Julio Arca.
The Newcastle skipper has often been asked if he regrets joining his hometown club from Blackburn when he had the chance to join Manchester United. But Shearer, despite winning nothing in his 10 years with the Magpies, is adamant the move was the right one for him.
'I expect a few people not to believe me but it is the truth,' he told BBC1.
'When I was a young lad I wanted to play for Newcastle, wear the number nine shirt and score goals. I've fulfilled my dream and I'm lucky to have done that.'
Shearer was in the Newcastle dug-out during Saturday's 3-0 win over West Brom at St James' Park but briefly emerged in the 75th minute to a tremendous ovation from the 52,272 crowd.
'It was a tremendous cheer and I'm very proud and very honoured,' added Shearer.
'I just hope now we can finish it (the season) off in a bit of style. If we finish off by qualifying for Europe that would be a great send off for me.'
Shearer was asked if his slightly premature retirement had sunk in yet and replied: 'Probably not'.
He admitted it had felt strange not to be preparing for a match.
'My little lad said this morning, 'when are you going to the match dad? Why aren't you having your pre-match meal Dad?' And I realised I have had my last pre-match meal. I came into the ground and had pie and chips for a change.'
Caretaker Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder revealed after the victory over West Brom that Shearer, who was asked to assist him when he took over from Graeme Souness in February, refused to let his own problems take the edge off an important game.
'Do you know why there wasn't too much of an air of depression around the place?' he asked. 'Because Alan Shearer wouldn't let there be one.
'Alan Shearer is not walking around here with his head down. Did you see him on the bench? He was smiling and enjoying himself.
'I said to him on Friday, 'I hope you realise - if your playing career is over - that the season hasn't ended for you. You have got to go back to your day job, which is getting in that dug-out with the other coaching staff and watching the game.'
Roeder is convinced that Shearer will one day make it as manager.
'Ultimately, even though he might have a year out, 18 months out, he will manage, I'm sure.
'I stand there and I can hear him talking to the other coaches in the background, and he can read a game.
'He might have been just a striker and some players can only understand their own position and what their own position should be doing, but you listen to him talking and he understands what everyone should be doing at any one time.
'He's going to take a break from the game but, as long as he still wants it, he's got a bright future ahead of him.
'That was the reason there was no depression. There was a lot of sympathy, there were a lot of sorrys and 'I wish it hadn't happened, Alan', but you wouldn't get him down and feeling sorry for himself, none of that.
'But that's Alan Shearer. He's the real deal as a person. I don't think there's anything left to describe him as a footballer, so I won't add to what's been said.
'But if I was allowed to choose my friends, I'd certainly choose Alan Shearer as a friend because of how he is as a human being.'
Shearer's 61st-minute penalty at the Stadium of Light was the 409th goal and last of his senior career, and former England captain Bryan Robson admitted his departure was not the worst way to go out.
'It's good that Alan hasn't done his cruciate,' he said. 'People are saying it would have been nice to see him go out on a high note towards the end of the season.
'But, being a Geordie, what better way is there to go out than winning a derby 4-1 away from home and scoring a goal if that's going to be your last?
'He's been a great ambassador for the game as a player and I'm sure Alan will still have a big influence on the game in whatever role he wants to go into.'
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