Shearer goes home for pounds 15m

In Newcastle shops yesterday they ran out of letters to put "Shearer" on the back of black and white shirts. In Blackburn, there was a rush to have the departing idol's name removed from Rovers strips. All the fuss might have been saved if Alan Shearer had not been handed a green jersey when he reported to his local club for a trial 14 years ago.

Hearts were broken in Blackburn and filled with joy on Tyneside as it emerged that Newcastle United had smashed all transfer records - domestic, European and global - to finance the coming home of England's Euro 96 hero. At a cost of pounds 15m, pounds 1.7m more than Barcelona paid PSV Eindhoven for Ronaldo, Shearer finally found himself in the football home he always wanted.

When he turned up for a trial at St James' Park in 1982 he did not get a chance to shoot at goal. "I told them I was a centre-forward but they played me in goal for two days," he recalled.

Only yesterday was a figure put on that error of judgement. But it was Newcastle's good fortune, and to Manchester United's cost, that Shearer never allowed the setback to come between him and his love for the black and whites.

As a 12-year-old from the Newcastle suburb of Gosforth, he queued for five hours to watch Kevin Keegan's debut against Queen's Park Rangers. He was one of the Gallowgate Enders who celebrated the winner Keegan slid into that goalmouth.

Last night, Keegan was celebrating his capture of the Geordie whose goalscoring talent could win Newcastle the priceless prize of the championship trophy they have craved since the sepia days of Hughie Gallacher in 1927.

Speaking from Bangkok, where Newcastle play the Thai national side today, Keegan said: "This signing is for the people of Newcastle. It just shows you the ambition of Newcastle United. We are the biggest thinking team in Europe now.

"We're not the biggest, most successful team, but we're the biggest thinking club and we have tremendous support from above which allows me to buy players.

"Alan will not be joining us here. Tell the Thai team they just have to worry about Ferdinand, Beardsley and Asprilla."

Shearer's departure is likely to ignite another major round of spending as Blackburn seek to replace him and Manchester United look elsewhere. United completed their signing of Czech international Karel Poborsky from Slavia Prague, in a four-year deal worth pounds 3.5m, and also inquired about the availability of Patrick Kluivert, Ajax's Dutch international forward.

Kluivert is available at the right price, which in an English auction may reach over pounds 7m, as Ajax fear he will go for nothing at the end of next season to Italy when his contract expires.

If Kluivert joins United, Andy Cole is likely to leave. Everton had agreed in principle a pounds 4.5m fee with United if Shearer had signed and sources close to the Goodison club suggested that they will wait for Cole before looking elsewhere.

Back at St James' Park, Ferdinand has agreed to give up the No 9 shirt and it remains to be seen whether he will fit into Keegan's revised forward thinking. A move back to London, possibly to Arsenal, was mooted in April as Keegan's former club-record signing struggled to find his goalscoring form. But the feeling on Tyneside last night was that the Newcastle manager will make his assault on the trophy front in the coming season with the dream striking ticket Terry Venables ignored. "They will be a lethal duo up front," the Newcastle chairman, Sir John Hall, said. "They will cause concern among many a defence."

Shearer, 25, has signed a five-year deal which it is understood could earn him pounds 1.5m in signing-on fees and up to pounds 7m in wages. He said his goodbyes at Blackburn yesterday and headed to Tyneside for a medical.

He is expected to be paraded at St James' Park on Tuesday and will play at Wembley in the Charity Shield on Sunday week against the club left swallowing sour grapes yesterday. "There was no way Blackburn were prepared to let him come to us," Martin Edwards, Manchester United's chairman and chief executive, maintained. "The club made that clear by rejecting our offer."

Shearer, the top scorer in Euro 96 and the only player to have scored 100 Premier League goals, maintained that the pull of home was the decisive factor. "I was particularly impressed with Alex Ferguson," he said. "But Kevin Keegan also has great qualities and it was the challenge of coming home and wearing the famous black and white shirt which made up my mind for me."

The First Sport store in Newcastle city centre ran out of letters, such was the demand for Shearer shirts. More than 500 tops were sold in two hours at Newcastle's club shop.

In Blackburn, where Rovers have sold 15,000 season tickets, supporters expressed anger and frustration. The chairman, Robert Coar, said: "I don't believe it could have been handled any differently. Alan was not for sale but he made his request to speak to his home-town club. We fought tooth and nail to persuade him his future was with Blackburn Rovers."

Rovers' chief benefactor, Jack Walker, said he was "absolutely devastated" by Shearer's decision but added: "The relationship between us is still very strong. I thought he was happy here, but there was nothing more we could do to make him stay."

Shearer said of Walker: "He's been a father figure to me. I know we will always be the best of friends. This is the way I want to leave: no animosity, no bitterness, just friendship." He added: "He battled harder than anyone can imagine to persuade me to stay. But I simply felt it was time for a fresh challenge."

Big business plays ball, page 23

FROM NEWCASTLE TO NEWCASTLE: THE ALAN SHEARER STORY

1970: Born 13 August in Newcastle.

1988: Signed professional forms with Southampton on 14 April, five days after he had made a sensational full debut for Saints as he became the youngest player to score a Football League hat-trick, in a 4-2 win over Arsenal at The Dell.

1988-89: Failed to score in eight full League appearances for Southampton.

1989-90: Scored three goals in 26 League matches for Saints.

1990-91: Scored four times in 36 League games and earned an England Under- 21 call-up, going on to score a record 13 goals in 11 appearances at that level including seven in four matches at the Toulon tournament, which England won.

1991-92: Made senior England debut at Wembley on 19 February, scoring in 2-0 win over France. Travelled with squad to European Championships in Sweden, playing in 0-0 draw against France in Malmo. In July 1992, moved to Blackburn in then British record pounds 3.3m deal. He had scored 23 League goals in 118 appearances for Southampton.

1992-93: Scored twice on Blackburn debut in 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and went on to score 22 times in total that season before suffering serious cruciate knee ligament injury against Leeds on Boxing Day. He had scored twice in that 3-1 home win but missed the rest of the campaign.

1993-94: Voted Footballer of the Year having scored a total of 34 goals that season.

1994-95: His 34 Premiership goals led Blackburn to their first championship for 81 years. Voted PFA Player of the Year.

1995-96: Became first player to reach 100 goals in the FA Carling Premiership, taking only three seasons to do so. Won Golden Boot as top goalscorer at Euro 96 after scoring five times, against Switzerland, Scotland, the Netherlands (two) and Germany. Moves to Newcastle in world record pounds 15m deal.

KEEGAN'S

SIGNINGS FOR

NEWCASTLE

1991-92 season

Kevin Sheedy (Everton) Free

Darron McDonagh (Luton) pounds 90,000

Brian Kilcline (Oldham) pounds 250,000

Peter Garland (Tottenham) pounds 35,000

Total (4 players) pounds 375,000

1992-93 season

John Beresford (Portsmouth) pounds 650,000

Paul Bracewell (Sunderland) pounds 250,000

Barry Venison (Liverpool) pounds 250,000

Robert Lee (Charlton) pounds 700,000

Scott Sellars (Leeds) pounds 700,000

Mark Robinson (Barnsley) pounds 450,000

Andy Cole (Bristol City) pounds 1.75m

Total (7 players) pounds 4.75m

1993-94 season

Peter Cormack (Meadowbank) pounds 10,000

Nicodemus Papavasiliou (OFI Crete) pounds 125,000

Peter Beardsley (Everton) pounds 1.35m

Alex Mathie (Morton) pounds 285,000

Malcolm Allen (Millwall) pounds 300,000

Mike Hooper (Liverpool) pounds 550,000

Mike Jeffrey (Doncaster) pounds 60,000

Chris Holland (Preston) pounds 100,000

Ruel Fox (Norwich City) pounds 2.25m

Darren Peacock (QPR) pounds 2.7m

Total (10 players) pounds 7.75m

1994-95 season

Marc Hottiger (FC Sion) pounds 520,000

Jason Drysdale (Watford) pounds 425,000

Steve Guppy (Wycombe) pounds 150,000

Philippe Albert (Anderlecht) pounds 2.65m

Paul Kitson (Derby County) pounds 2.25m

Keith Gillespie (Man United) pounds 1m

Jimmy Crawford (Bohemians) pounds 75,000

Total (7 players) pounds 7m

1995-96 season

Warren Barton (Wimbledon) pounds 4m

Les Ferdinand (QPR) pounds 6m

David Ginola (Paris St-Germain) pounds 2.5m

Shaka Hislop (Reading) pounds 1.575m

David Eatock (Chorley) pounds 25,000

Darren Huckerby (Lincoln) pounds 500,000

Faustino Asprilla (Parma) pounds 6.7m

David Batty (Blackburn) pounds 3.75m

Total (8 players) pounds 25m

1996-97 season

Alan Shearer (Blackburn) pounds 15m

GRAND TOTAL (37 players) pounds 60m

TRANSFERS

OVER pounds 10M

pounds 15m A Shearer (Blackburn to Newcastle)

pounds 13.3m Ronaldo (PSV to Barcelona)

pounds 13m G Lentini (Torino to Milan)

pounds 12m G Vialli (Sampdoria to Juventus)

pounds 11m E Chiesa (Sampdoria to Parma)

pounds 10m R Baggio (Juventus to Milan)

pounds 10m J-P Papin (Marseille to Milan)

BRITAIN'S

TOP 10 DEALS

pounds 15m A Shearer (Blackburn to Newcastle)

pounds 8.5m S Collymore (N Forest to Liverpool)

pounds 7.5m D Bergkamp (Internazionale to Arsenal)

pounds 7.5m F Asprilla (Parma to Newcastle)

pounds 7m F Ravanelli (Juventus to Middlesbrough)

pounds 7m P Ince (Man Utd to Internazionale)

pounds 7m A Cole (Newcastle to Man Utd)

pounds 6m L Ferdinand (QPR to Newcastle)

pounds 5.5m D Platt (Aston Villa to Bari)

pounds 5.5m P Gascoigne (Tottenham to Lazio)

BRITISH TRANSFER

LANDMARKS

pounds 15m Alan Shearer (Blackburn to Newcastle) Jul 1996

pounds 8.5m Stan Collymore (Nottm Forest to Liverpool) Jun 1995

pounds 7m Andy Cole (Newcastle to Man Utd) Jan 1995

pounds 5m Chris Sutton (Norwich to Blackburn) Jul 1994

pounds 4m Duncan Ferguson (Dundee Utd to Rangers) Aug 1993 (Rangers to Everton) Dec 1995

pounds 3,750,000 Roy Keane (Nottm Forest to Man Utd) Jul 1993

pounds 3,300,000 Alan Shearer (Southampton to Blackburn) Jul 1992

pounds 2,900,000 Dean Saunders (Derby to Liverpool) Jul 1991

pounds 2,200,000 Tony Cottee (West Ham to Everton) Jul 1988

pounds 2m Paul Gascoigne (Newcastle to Tottenham) Jul 1988

pounds 1,500,000 Bryan Robson (WBA to Man Utd) Oct 1981

pounds 1,000,000 Trevor Francis (Birmingham to Nottm Forest) Feb 1979

pounds 516,000 David Mills

(Middlesbrough to WBA) Jan 1979

pounds 440,000 Kenny Dalglish (Celtic to Liverpool) Aug 1977

pounds 200,000 Martin Peters (West Ham to Tottenham) Mar 1970

pounds 110,000 Alan Ball (Blackpool to Everton) Aug 1966

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