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Tuesday, September 7, 1999 Published at 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK

Sport: Football

Shearer hits out at Kelly

Centre of attention: Alan Shearer faces the media in Poland

Alan Shearer has hit back at former Football Association chief Graham Kelly, who described the England captain as "childish and immature".

Alan Shearer: "This kind of talk undermines the team at a crucial time"
Shearer criticised the timing of Kelly's accusation, which came in the build-up to England's make-or-break Euro 2000 qualifier with Poland on Wednesday.

Kelly, who was forced to quit the FA last year, had harsh words in his book, Sweet FA, about the Newcastle striker, in particular for his reaction after being charged with misconduct for kicking Leicester's Neil Lennon at the end of the 1997-98 season.

BBC Football Correspondent Mike Ingham: "Shearer is on the warpath"
Shearer told a news conference in Poland: "It is criminal that it has been released at this time to cause maximum damage to myself and maximum disruption to an England side which is focusing on such an important game.

"I'm sure everyone, ourselves, the fans, wants to concentrate 100% on the game and getting a good result, which I believe we can."

France 98 'threat'

In his book, Kelly writes that Shearer threatened to withdraw his services for the 1998 World Cup over the Lennon affair.

[ image: Graham Kelly: Harsh words on the England captain's behaviour]
Graham Kelly: Harsh words on the England captain's behaviour
When Kelly's complaints were put to the player, he dismissed them as "serious, untrue accusations".

But he refused to comment further ahead of the Euro 2000 match.

"There are two sides to every story," Shearer said, "but now is not the time for me to tell mine with such a hugely important game only 24 hours away.

"There might be a time in the future when I tell my side of the story, but not now."

Asked if he had got the row out of his system, he replied: "It wasn't in my system."

'Out of my control'

Kelly, though, insisted he was not to blame for the timing of the story, as he had no influence over when his book would hit the streets or be serialised.

He said: "It is entirely outside my control. I signed a contract to do the book six to eight months ago.

"It didn't appear to do Alan Shearer any harm and there are far bigger things that are going to rock the boat if the boat is going to be rocked.

"It's unfortunate if in some respects it caused some upset during an important time but it is outside my control."

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