Shearer changes mind and plays on for another season

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The Independent Football

The longest-running retirement saga in English football was finally decided last night when it emerged that Alan Shearer will continue playing at Newcastle United for one more season instead of calling it quits on a 17-year playing career.

The longest-running retirement saga in English football was finally decided last night when it emerged that Alan Shearer will continue playing at Newcastle United for one more season instead of calling it quits on a 17-year playing career.

Shearer, who will be 35 in August, had announced his intention to stop playing last summer and was widely tipped to head for a career as a BBC pundit rather than try his hand at management.

However, after scoring 18 goals this season, and with Craig Bellamy unlikely to return to St James' Park following his dispute with Graeme Souness, the former England captain has decided to continue playing.

Key to Shearer's decision will be his desire to break Jackie Milburn's club goalscoring record of 200 at St James' Park ­ the current Newcastle captain is just nine goals short.

Shearer is believed to have been influenced to play on after the Newcastle fans chanted: "Shearer, Shearer, one more season," during the 2-1 home Uefa Cup victory against Heerenveen in February, in which Shearer scored.

Shearer is expected to explain his reasons for playing on at a press conference today.

Shearer joined Newcastle from Blackburn Rovers in 1996 and still has just one medal ­ a Premiership title with his former club ­ to show for an illustrious career.

Although the striker's management ambitions were originally viewed as a factor that could prevent Newcastle from being able to attract a successor to Sir Bobby Robson, who was sacked earlier this season, he has made an ally in Souness.

The Scot has told Shearer that he would like him to remain at the club for another season and, with Patrick Kluivert unlikely to stay, he will probably get a new strike partner for his last season in professional football.

He has suffered from cruciate ligament injuries in his knee that have affected a career that began with a debut for Southampton in 1988 when he was just 17 ­ Shearer famously scored a hat-trick during a victory over Arsenal.

Shearer was a British record signing when Blackburn bought him for £3.3m in 1992 and he turned down the chance to join Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Shearer scored 30 goals in 63 appearances for England but announced his retirement at the end of the Euro 2000 finals despite scoring the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Germany. The leading all-time Premiership goalscorer, Shearer struck his 250th career goal against Manchester City in February.

To his credit, Souness has never given up and has continued to chip away at Shearer, who both publicly and privately has shown few signs of changing his mind.

However, after reading reports earlier this month that suggested the striker had called time on his playing career by signing a new deal with BBC Television, the 51-year-old hinted at what was to come.

"If I was a supporter, I would not be paying too much attention to that story," said Souness.

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