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Last Updated: Monday, 8 March, 2004, 08:52 GMT
Shepherd defends Shearer
Newcastle striker Alan Shearer
Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has backed Alan Shearer after Ruud Gullit's extraordinary outburst about the Magpies captain.

The former Newcastle coach, now in charge of Feyenoord, branded Shearer "overrated" and "a rotten apple".

But Shepherd told The Sun: "I'll always defend Alan against any criticism. He has done a great job for us. I refuse to let anyone knock him.

"His record speaks for itself. He's given our fans so many great moments."

Gullit spoke of his rift with Shearer following the striker's attack on Magpies boss Sir Bobby Robson.

I'll always defend Alan against any criticism
Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd

The former Dutch great told the News of the World: "It was plain he didn't want to play for me.

"I told him to his face he was the most overrated player I have ever seen."

Gullit launched his stinging attack on the former England captain five years after he resigned as Newcastle manager following a bitter dispute with Shearer.

He accused Shearer of being a selfish player who threatens to rule the roost at St James' Park.

Gullit said: "He thinks about himself all the time. It's always about his goals and not about the team.

"If we were going to succeed as a team I knew we had to change the way Alan Shearer played but he didn't want to change."

Gullit resigned after controversially dropping Shearer to the bench for a derby against Sunderland which Newcastle lost.

Games: 603
Goals: 347
Total transfer fees: 18.6m
England caps: 63
England goals: 30
Honours: Premiership championship (with Blackburn)

"The problem was that he had too much power. In the end it became a battle I could never win," added Gullit.

"He was England's favourite, England's captain and he was playing for his home-town team.

"All of that meant he was bigger than the club itself.

"What could the board do? If they back the manager and kick him out they will have everybody against them.

"They decided to try another coach instead but nothing has changed.

"Sir Bobby has done well but the rotten apple is still there, the damage is still being done."

I told him to his face 'you are the most overrated player I have ever seen'
Ruud Gullit

Gullit also claimed: "There's a clique of mediocre players who think if they stick close to him they will stay involved in the team.

"As manager I wanted him to play well and to score goals, but I wanted to use him in a different way.

"Unfortunately, for some reason he didn't want to try. He's a good player, but he will never win trophies.

"He has won one, when he was at his best, but after that, what?

"He scores some great goals but it's the players who score goals and win trophies and championships that receive the real recognition.

"I told him to his face 'you are the most overrated player I have ever seen' but he didn't reply.

"Maybe that's why they call him Mary Poppins because he is so innocent. But I know how powerful and ruthless he can be."

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