There was always a sense of calm about Alan Shearer on the field. But there was much more to Shearer than just the composure. His steely resolve and the will to win set him apart from the others. And it's a testament to the fact that he still holds the record for the most goals in Premier League history. The former Newcastle striker is known to be intense but always brimming with energy. And that is exactly how he turns out to be, as Shearer, clad in a smart suit, offers a warm handshake before sitting down to discuss all things football with Firstpost at the St. Regis Hotel in Mumbai.
Shearer was in India to attend The Football Movement 2017 conference organised by India on Track (IOT) and the Premier League and he discussed a variety of topics ranging from the England national team, Roy Keane to Arsene Wenger. We tried to unravel the different side of a generally intense Shearer, and the champion that he is, the former Newcastle star was frank, honest and humorous with his answers.
FP: What brings you to India?
Shearer: We are here for the Football Movement Conference and to share the fan experience tomorrow (4 March) and also our experiences of the Premier League in England. (We are here also) To try and improve the ISL (Indian Super League). It's my first time in India, and I am really looking forward to it. So thanks for having me (smiles).
FP: What was the feeling the first time you put on the Newcastle jersey?
Shearer: It was amazing. It was my club. It was where I was born and brought up. I used to stand on the terraces of St James' Park as a kid. So it was always my dream and my ambition to play for my club. Of course, when I did that, it was everything I hoped it would be and a lot more. I scored on my debut at St James' Park. It was an incredible feeling to do it in front of my friends and family. It was great because it was my club that I always supported.
FP: What is that one thing that you would like to change about Joey Barton (the controversial former Newcastle player)?
Shearer: What I would like to change about Joey Barton? I wouldn't change anything about him. You would have to ask him if he wanted to change anything about himself though.
FP: If you were coaching Zlatan Ibrahimovic, what would you tell him?
Shearer: I wouldn't tell him anything. I would just tell him to continue the way he is. I love his hunger and desire and his attitude to go out and train everyday. His attitude to go out and be a talisman for his club and share his experiences with younger boys at Manchester United – (Anthony) Martial, (Marcus) Rashford, (Anders) Lindegaard. It must be great for the guys to see the enthusiasm that he has every day. And of course, being the talisman at 35 years of age for such a huge football club tells you everything about what Ibra is.
FP: If you had one advice for Arsene Wenger, what would it be?
Shearer: (Laughs): Umm... I couldn't give him any advice. I think he has been a hugely successful manager, when you look at his record of finishing inside the top four every single year. If I were a businessman or head of my company, then there would be that one guy I would want have – my manager. The finances he has brought to the Arsenal football club have been just superb. I know they haven't won the Premier League for a long time which is what the fans want now. But fans also have to look at it and realise what happened to Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson, who was there for such a long time, left. Sometimes you have to be careful of what you wish for.
FP: What is your proudest moment in football?
Shearer: My proudest moment in football was being named the England captain. I always wanted to play for England but I never ever thought that I would be the captain of the national team. To walk out with the (captain's) armband at Wembley, to represent your country in World Cups and European Championships as captain – I don't think it gets any bigger or better than that.
FP: What's your favourite nutmeg?
Shearer: I can't remember too many nutmegs. I remember all my goals but not too many nutmegs. I never got judged on nutmegs... always goals (laughs).
FP: So what's your favourite goal then?
Shearer: Favourite and best are different. My best would be the volley for Newcastle against Everton at St James' Park. Favourite... I have so many. Umm... so many in the Premier League. My first for Newcastle, when I broke the Newcastle record. So many at Blackburn when we won the Premier League in 1994-95. And the ones for England in Euro 96, against Netherlands. The atmosphere in that game was incredible (smiles).
FP: What was your first reaction when you saw that magical goal by Dennis Bergkamp against Newcastle in 2002?
Shearer: Do you want the truth? (laughs). No, he was a special player. I think he is, without any doubt, one of the best players we have had in the Premier League. He looked very comfortable with the football at his feet, whether it was going left or right, or bringing other people into the game, and of course, when you speak to all the ex-Arsenal players, they will always tell you that one of the most gifted players they had was Dennis Bergkamp.
FP: But what was your reaction to that goal?
Shearer: It was an incredible goal. Did it surprise me? Probably not, because he was capable of doing that. We had seen him doing that in Dutch (colours) also. But the skill, the reaction and the ability to finish it off – to do all those things – he was a top player!
FP: What was your funniest moment as a football pundit?
Shearer: When I started off, I was nervous. You can make mistakes on a football pitch, because you can rectify it. You can go and score a goal or the winning goal in the 90th minute if you had made a mistake earlier. If you make a mistake on live TV then there is no going back on it. You are always going to be reminded of that. I have made one or two, fortunately not too many embarrassing moments. Not that I think about them anyway... but not (too many mistakes) yet (laughs).
FP: Which four guests would you invite to your dinner party?
Shearer: From the world of football or from anywhere?
Shearer: I would have Tiger Woods. I am a huge golf fan. I think his story would be a very interesting one. I would definitely have (former US) president (Barack) Obama. Ummm... Who else would I have? I think I would have Nick Faldo in there because of him being such a winner, and because of his hunger and desire. Who else would I have in there with interesting stories? Good question (laughs). Let me think... I think there may be someone like Madonna in there to find out her story as well. Interesting story. Interesting times. It will be an interesting dinner party any way (sheepish smile)
FP: Who is the dirtiest defender you've played against?
Shearer: Dirtiest... I don't know about dirtiest, but the best defender in the Premier League that I had faced was Tony Adams. He was hard. We had some great battles. But he was fair. He kicked me, I kicked him. He was a leader. He was a captain. But one of the good things was that we always shook hands at the end of the game and said well done, whether Arsenal had won or we had. He was the best defender but wasn't dirty, he was hard but also fair.
FP: Who's the most irritating pundit to work with?
Shearer: (Laughs) Oh, that doesn't take any thinking about. That's Robbie Savage! Without a doubt. But I do like him.
FP: Which player reminds you of yourself the most?
Shearer: Now when I look at Harry Kane, I see a bit of myself in him, I see a bit of Teddy Sheringham in him. I think he is very good at most things whether he is taking the ball to his feet, or whether he is finishing. He is good in the air.
I think if he stays fit, which is a big 'if', and if he stays in the Premier League for the next 10 years, I think he is the one guy who could possibly go on and break my goal-scoring record.
FP: When did you first perform your famous 'Salute' celebration?
Shearer: (Laughs) It was in my early days, back in Southampton. I don't know why I did it. I just did it. The more I got criticised for it, the more I thought I was going to stick with it. I did change it once or twice foolishly at Blackburn and at Newcastle, but for the main, it was mostly the one arm in the air. It worked anyway.
FP: What was the biggest argument you had with a teammate?
Shearer: That's a good question. When we were at Blackburn, playing in the Champions League. I think we were played against Sparta Moscow away, and two of our teammates – Graeme Russow and David Batty – were fighting. We had a huge row in the dressing room after the match. Two of our teammates – Kieran Dyer and Lee Bowyer – were also fighting on the pitch during Newcastle against Aston Villa at St James' Park. There was a bigger row in the dressing room then. On both those occasions, there weren't great scenes. It was very poor professionally. And words were said in the dressing room not in a polite way as well (laughs).
FP: If you were still playing today, which manager would you have loved to work under?
Shearer: Umm, I think probably Jose Mourinho. (For) the way he has managed around the world, the way he got (Diego) Costa scoring goals during his spell at Chelsea. The way he handles (Zlatan) Ibrahimovich now. I know it was different at Chelsea last season, but a lot of times, the players spoke very highly of him and his man-management skills.
FP: Which is that one word which you overuse?
Shearer: One word I overuse... Umm (smiles). I don't know. You should ask the viewers. Maybe it is 'superb' or 'brilliant'. Yeah, I think I use those words a lot.
Shearer: 'Lads'... I use 'lads' a lot, yeah. You're telling me now (laughs all around). Is that what you are telling me? 'Lads'? Okay, I'll try and cut that out. I won't use 'lads' anymore (smiles).
FP: One thing that irritates you the most about yourself?
Shearer: I am always early. I have to be early. All my life, if I have had a meeting at 9'o clock, I would be there at quarter-to-nine or ten-to-nine. That was instilled in me as a young boy because of my dad. He was always very big and very strong. I have seen in my life that to be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late and to be late is unacceptable.
FP: So that irritates you?
Shearer: Well, I know it irritates other people because I am always early. But there is nothing that irritates me about myself. I am perfect (laughs). Apart from the fact that I use the word 'lads' too many times (laughs).
FP: What did you love about your last ever goal for Newcastle?
Shearer: I loved everything about it. Because one, it was a penalty, two, because it was against Sunderland and three, it was my last ever kick of a football.
And it was away at Sunderland. I got injured two minutes after taking the penalty and never played again. So that's what I enjoyed about it the most. I missed a penalty against Sunderland a few years earlier, so I had to score.
FP: What is the one thing that England need to do to get better at football?
Shearer: We need to produce more young players. Which is difficult because we have a lot of foreign players in our league and they get opportunities more than our youngsters do. It has nothing to do with luck. We can say we have been unlucky once or twice with penalty shoot-outs but in the main, we have to hold our hands up and say, "We haven't been good enough in major tournaments." You have to start producing more young players.
FP: What is the one thing that you liked about Roy Keane?
Shearer: He was a winner. His hunger, his desire... I didn't know Keane personally. Had plenty of arguments on the pitch. But certainly, if there was one (player) I would want in my team from around those years, it would probably be Roy.
FP: Would you ever like to feature in Arsenal Fan TV?
Shearer: That's also a good question. I think they probably wouldn't want me there. Because I always say the same things as they do. Arsenal haven't been good enough and aren't good enough to win the Premier League. I always say what those guys say anyway. They have brilliant moments for two-three months in a season and a lot of people say how great they are and (they) are going to win the league. But nothing has changed at Arsenal in the last seven or eight years with the mentality that they have. And that's why I say at the beginning of every season that I don't think Arsenal will win the league. So they probably wouldn't want me there, I wouldn't be controversial enough for them (laughs).
FP: What is your message for Firstpost readers?
Shearer: Thank you for having me. I hope I haven't used the word 'lads' too many times. As I have been told, I say it far too often. It's great to be here and I hope to be back very soon. Thank you.
Published Date: Mar 06, 2017 14:18 PM | Updated Date: Mar 06, 2017 14:19 PM