‘‘There are so many bang average players who are multi-millionaires. Where is the motivation to keep going if they are a multi-millionaire at 18? Why would they get out of bed?’’
These are the frank words of a BBC pundit who did not have such motivational problems as a player himself.
Alan Shearer, the record goal scorer in the history of the Premier League, was speaking at the Dome in Doncaster on Friday night.
An auction was held before the Match of the Day pundit came on stage, which raised £1,000 for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.
The former Newcastle and England striker was greeted on stage to chants of his name by the boisterous audience.
‘‘We are not going to get many questions in at this rate,’’ Alan Biggs, the Sheffield Star and talkSPORT journalist, said.
Once the cheers and chants died down, Shearer expressed his love for the sport where he forged his successful career.
— jonny staniland (@jonny_stan) 13 November 2017
Shearer made his debut for Southampton at the age of 17 after being thrown into the team at the last-minute when Danny Wallace was injured.
‘‘There was no time to get nervous and none of my family were there as I didn’t think I’d be playing.’’
He certainly wasn’t plagued by nerves, scoring a hat-trick as Southampton ran out 4-2 winners against Arsenal at The Dell. He never looked back.
‘‘I would quite happily go home having scored from one yard out or twenty. It didn’t matter if it went in the net off my backside. I just felt so lucky to be paid for the thrill of scoring goals,’’ said Shearer.
This attitude explains why he scored 260 goals in 441 Premier League appearances, winning the Golden Boot on three occasions between 1994 and 1997.
Management, however, was much more of a challenge to him, as he found out when he took over Newcastle for the final nine games of the 2008-9 season as The Magpies were relegated.
‘‘The fact that I was fourth manager that season meant there was something fundamentally wrong. I saw a huge list of fines when I arrived at the training ground, and tried to increase the fines to as much as 50 per cent if players were late three times.
‘‘I was not allowed to do so as the Players’ Committee thought it was too harsh. I knew straight away there were problems. My Dad would be sacked if he was late for his job. Some players just did not want to be there,’’ he said.
Regarding management, Shearer said Bobby Robson was by far his favourite to work with.
‘‘He was a genius at man management. Everyone loved him and respected him. Young, rude and arrogant players coming through need such management.
‘‘Because it’s football, it’s almost accepted to be rude and arrogant. My son plays rugby for Newcastle Falcons, and the atmosphere is far more respectful,’’ the former England striker said.
For someone who is content with his own career, he is frustrated by a few things within the Beautiful Game, not least the introduction of VAR.
‘‘It should come back when everything is 100 per cent correct and accurate. At the moment it is not. The fans are the most important as they pay a fortune to watch the games. It cannot be right if they do not know exactly what is going on.
‘‘VAR is here to stay whether we like it or not but at the moment it’s hopeless,’’ Shearer admitted.
Before Shearer came on stage, a painting of Shearer signed by the man himself sold for £750, as did other items including a boxing glove signed by Anthony Joshua, and a signed 1966 England shirt.
Painting and prints ready for tomorrow night for an evening with Alan Shearer at the Doncaster Dome. Looking forward to this event! Platinum Events Ltd @alanshearer https://t.co/OHegH73BQwhttps://t.co/hOxMmQ4ulX pic.twitter.com/lb8tDE0fwG
— Jamie-art (@jamieart3) 22 February 2018
Asked for his thoughts on the current England squad emulating the heroics of 66, Shearer is not optimistic.
‘‘It can’t get any worse than Iceland, but the reason expectations are so low is because we are not producing enough players. There is no experience at all. Butland and Stones have hardly played. It is hard to agree on three definite centre-halves.
‘‘If England do fail, it won’t be for a lack of organisation. I know Gareth Southgate well and he is thorough in his preparation.
‘‘Our 1996 team was full of leaders and captains like Tony Adams, David Seaman, Gareth Southgate and Paul Ince. I do not see that leadership now,’’ he said.
On a lighter note, Shearer told the audience about antics on a Newcastle trip to Dublin in 1997 where a tipsy Keith Gillespie smashed a set of bottles and glasses from a table not once, but twice. Taking him aside, Shearer told him to calm down.
‘‘Keith was crazy when he had a drink. I foolishly turned my back, and he hit me on the back of the head. I retaliated and he fell back and hit his head on the pavement. He was that pissed. He was completely concussed but we apologised and made up in the morning.’’
Reflecting on his career at the end of the event, Shearer told the crowd that his football career had been a dream come true – exactly how he’d pictured it, standing on the Gallowgate End of the Newcastle ground as a 12 year-old.
‘‘I was hopeless at school and didn’t like it. I went home and just played football on the street. For a child growing up in a three bed council house, I dreamed of playing football.
‘‘I have no regrets. If I had the chance, I’d do everything the same again.’’
Cue the chants of “Shearer” one final time, as the audience showed their adoration for a footballing legend.