Alan Shearer has absolved Julio Arca of any blame for the injury which may have brought his career to a premature conclusion. The 35-year-old Newcastle United striker will undergo a scan tomorrow on his injured left knee and, if fears that he has suffered a tear to his medial ligament prove to be correct, he has almost certainly kicked his last ball with retirement three competitive games away.
But the former England captain insists that Arca's part in his demise - he and Tommy Miller both challenged Shearer - during Newcastle's 4-1 win at Sunderland was purely accidental.
"To be fair, the Sunderland lad just fell on top of me," he said. "He fell on the outside of my knee and that puts pressure on the inside, and something has given in there. The knee is very sore and to be honest, it is not looking good at the moment. We will leave it until Thursday before I have a scan, but our medical people fear that there is a tear in the medial ligament."
Asked if that could mean the end of his career, he replied: "It might be, to be honest. It doesn't feel good at the moment."
If that proves to be the case, Shearer will have least gone out on a high having helped his side to their best derby victory over their arch rivals for 50 years and, in the process, exorcising a ghost which has haunted him for some time. In November 2000, the Magpies were trailing 2-1 to the Black Cats at St James' Park when the striker was handed a chance to level from the penalty spot with just minutes remaining.
However, it was the Sunderland keeper Thomas Sorensen who wrote himself into Tyne-Wear history with a save which is still hailed by Black Cats fans. This time, Shearer was not about to make the same mistake, handing his side a 2-1 lead from the spot as the visitors staged a remarkable fightback.
"I have waited five or six years to get another penalty against Sunderland," he admitted. "It's been a long time, but thankfully it was worth the wait. I have hardly slept since I missed that one, so really it was pay-back time. It's been a long time coming and it was nice to get my own back."
Shearer's goal - his first for his hometown club against Sunderland - was followed by Charles N'Zogbia's stunning solo effort and substitute Albert Luque's late fourth as the home side crumbled. But it was the introduction of 59th-minute substitute Michael Chopra which changed the game when he cancelled out Justin Hoyte's first-half opener with his first Premiership goal within 13 seconds of his arrival.
"When you grow up in Newcastle, you dream about playing against Sunderland and it's been a pleasure to be involved in two of them," Chopra said. "It's the highlight of my career, especially as we were 1-0 down. That will stay in my memory for ever. I've never scored a goal as quick as that in my whole career."
For Sunderland's former Magpies defender Steve Caldwell, who was at the heart of a defence which capitulated horribly, defeat was hard to take. "We felt really good at half-time. We knew they would come at us after that, but we were still OK until they scored. Instead of showing the confidence and belief to stay in the game, we panicked."Reuse content