‘I was a very lucky lad’
The Premier League’s top scorer of all time sits in a swish meeting room in Cork, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, chewing on a mint. Alan Shearer, ladies and gentlemen.
The ringleader of the Toon army and pretty much as close to royalty as you can get in football terms, Shearer paid a flying visit to Cork this week to promote Speedflex, a results-driven training regime that’s new to the Kingsley Hotel.
The BBC ‘Match of the Day’ pundit retired from the game ten and-a-half years ago and then took up his role in front of the TV screen, and although it’s not quite the same as playing in front of thousands week in and week out, talking football in front of millions is a pretty good scenario to find yourself in, he says.
“I love it. For four or five years after I retired, I would have said management and coaching is what I want to do but four or five years ago I also made a conscious decision that it definitely wasn’t going to happen. I had to get my head stuck in to punditry and understand it and tell it how it is a bit more, so I’ve done that and I really enjoy it.
“I’m a lucky guy. The longer you’re out of football, the harder it is to get back in but I love it so much that I have no desire or thirst to get back in to management, not at all. There’s no downside to punditry. I’m one hell of a lucky lad, I got paid to play football and now I get paid to watch it.”
Shearer has been vocal in the last week following below-par performances from a number of teams in the FA Cup. Although only out of the game a decade, he believes managers are making too much of a habit of protecting their players in unneccessary circumstances.
“I’m pretty certain that players can play three games in a week. I don’t buy that excuse, you’re very rarley 100 per cent fit when you go out and play anyway. I know, I played for 20 years and it’s not often that you’re perfect before kick-off, right throughout the season. I understand that the pace is quick with the number of games etc. but with sports science now, we’re told they have the best sports science, the best pitches, the best preparation, the best diet, which should mean that you play more games – but obviously it doesn’t.
“If you keep telling players they can’t play three games a week, they believe it. The young generation that are now being brought in to football are now being told three games a week is too much, so they believe it. There was sports psycologists and sports scientists when I played but it didn’t work for me, I wasn’t big in to it, it was there if I wanted it but it didn’t do anything for me.”
As for the Premier League, Shearer is enjoying the season. With Newcastle in the Championship following last season’s relegation, there’s no side he is shouting for, but league leaders Chelsea are impressing.
“They’ve (Chelsea) have got a big one on Saturday against Arsenal and if they win that, I wouldn’t see anything other than a Chelsea victory at the end of the season. I’ve no preference for who wins, I just want to see a good league which I think it has been so far this season, it’s very open. I know Chelsea have a nine-point lead at the top but I think it’s been a very good league, it’s been tight and it’s been close so it’s been a lot more enjoyable.
“The top six are miles ahead of anyone else. The question now is that there’s going to be two big teams that miss out on Champion’s League football. Who they’re going to be I’m not quite sure but two big teams are missing out.
“I’ve been impressed with Chelsea when you consider how far behind they were last season to where they are now. The manager (Antonio Conte) has come in, new to the Premier League, made a few additions to the squad and he looks very comfortable playing a new system with three at the back so Chelsea have been brilliant. They’re be far the best team up until now.”
Shearer played for just three clubs in his career; a start in Southampton, before a move to Blackburn Rovers, followed by a homecoming to his beloved Newcastle where he eventually finished his career.
His career yielded just one league title with Blackburn in 1995, but in terms of regrets, Shearer has none. Club offers came and went but Newcastle, after moving to the club in 1996, was where it was always going to end for Shearer.
“Regrets? None. If I could change things I would change the injuries but that was part and parcel of it. I lived my dream and I was lucky. I miss the 90 minutes but I don’t miss everything that goes with it. I wasn’t a great trainer, I loved playing five a side and that kind of thing, I just loved the football.
“You can never get that adrenaline rush back, whatever you do, it’s just impossible to get. I don’t miss people telling me where to be, what to eat and what time to go to bed. I just miss that 90 minutes, you can’t get that buzz back.
“I still live in Newcastle and I still get out and about and have that interaction with the fans but you can never get that football back unfortunately.
“I had great times as all clubs, I left home at 15 to go to Southampton and I had a great time down there. I was young – it was hard leaving home at that age, I just left school and went down and lived in digs and it was tough because it wasn’t as if it was just ten miles down the road, it was 350 miles away, so I couldn’t come home every weekend or anything like that.
“I learned to grow up and fend for myself and that was one of the best decisions that I made. With Blackburn then we won the league and then coming home to Newcastle as the world’s most expensive player...I was a very lucky lad.”
As for that goalscoring record - Shearer scored 260 goals in 434 appearances - does he reckon anyone can ever beat it?
Laughing he continues: “I wouldn’t be annoyed if someone beat it, though. I don’t think Rooney will break it, he’s over 70 goals behind and he’s 31 now. Maybe Harry Kane could if he hangs around in the Premier League and stays away from injuries, then he could do it but it’s a big ‘if’ I think. You never know!”
Shearer was in Cork to promote Speedflex. Speaking about the results-driven, circuit-based training concept, he said: “Friends of mine brought it back from America. It’s very low impact, high intensity so there’s no stiffness or pain afterwards. If you went to gym and started lifting weights you’d be in pain the following day. It’s quick and you burn calories very quickly and it’s great, it works.
“I met a 77 year old lady three weeks ago who had tried everything and she said she was going to continue to do Speedflex because she loved it so whether you’re 21 or 77 or 46 like I am, you can do it. It works.”
A fourth National Cup in-a-row for Glanmire answers any questions of this side that were ever asked. They must surely be viewed now as the greatest women’s club basketball team of all time.
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