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Friday, 15 June, 2001, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Shearer the Geordie gem
Alan Shearer celebrates another goal
Shearer has been the scourge of keepers throughout his career
Alan Shearer's OBE puts the seal on one of football's great comic-book hero stories.

But life was nearly so different for the Geordie gem after the young Shearer was continually overlooked as a schoolboy.

It was not until he was 16 years old that Shearer was snapped up by Southampton following a tip-off from North East scout Jack Hickson.

  Shearer highlights
1988: Scores debut hat-trick against Arsenal
1991: Earns England Under-21 call-up
1992: Makes senior England v France.
July - Joins Blackburn in British record 3.3m deal.
1994: Voted Footballer of the Year.
1995: Helps Blackburn to championship
Voted PFA Player of the Year.
1996: First player to reach 100 goals in the FA Carling Premiership.
Wins Golden Boot as Euro 96 top scorer
Moves to Newcastle in world-record 15m deal
Wins 50th cap for England
2000: Scores five goals in 8-0 rout of Sheffield Wednesday
Scores 300th career goal.
2001: Awarded OBE in Queens' Birthday Honours
By then, the young striker had been turned down by West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Manchester City.

Worse still, his home-town club Newcastle offered him a trial but then put him in goal.

Soon enough though, Shearer was finding the goal for all the right reasons as he carved himself a career path that would ultimately lead him back to St James' Park.

His debut for Southampton on 9 April 1988 served early notice of Shearer's potential.

The precocious 17-year-old bagged a remarkable hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Arsenal at The Dell as Shearer became the youngest player to score three times in a First Division game.

Yet, after such a glorious start, Shearer played only two more league games that season, failing to find the net again.

The following season, he managed just three goals in 26 league games and his 1990-91 haul was four in 36, hardly the making of legends.

Alan Shearer
Shearer was always destined to return to Newcastle

But his promise was enough to earn him an England Under-21 call and Shearer blasted a record 13 goals for the young England side.

Seven of those came in just four games as England Under-21s won the Toulon tournament in France and, after just one B cap, Shearer won a surprise call to the full England squad.

Replacing Gary Lineker against France in February 1990, Shearer scored one and made one in a 2-0 win at Wembley.

As Shearer's reputation grew, he began to command attention from the leading clubs in the country and it was ambitious Blackburn who won the race for his signature for a then-British record fee of 3.3m in July 1992.

Snubbing Old Trafford in favour of Ewood Park eventually proved a shrewd move, but Shearer's development was threatened again by a career-threatening injury.

Shearer suffers injury with England
Injury has wrecked much of Shearer's career

The striker damaged cruciate ligaments in a Boxing Day clash with Leeds, ruling him out for the rest of the campaign and leaving England without their leading striker as they failed to reach the 1994 World Cup finals in America.

But Shearer battled back to full fitness and returned as sharp as ever, 31 league goals firing Blackburn to second place in the Premiership and earning Shearer the title of Footballer of the Year.

The following season tasted even sweeter for Shearer and Blackburn.

Rovers' first Championship for 81 years was complemented by Shearer being crowned PFA Player of the Year and it was not long before the familiar raised-arm celebration was put into action for the 100th time in the Premier League.

He continued to shine on the international scene too, five goals in Euro 96 helping the hosts to the semi-finals before the bowed out against Germany.

But Shearer still felt the need to prove himself.

The chance could have come in the shape of Manchester United but Shearer once again resisted their overtures and opted for a return home.

Fence painting

Again, it was a British record deal which took him to Newcastle, a 15m fee seeing his career turn full circle.

Shearer then, as he does now, failed to see what all the fuss was about.

Hardly surprising for a man who once said he prefers to paint his fence than paint the town red after a game.

His dream return did not quite work out as planned as Shearer and Newcastle narrowly failed to deliver the Premiership title to the Geordie fans.

Shearer weighed in with 28 goals - a remarkable feat given that injury ruled him out for much of the campaign - as Kevin Keegan's side finished runners-up behind Manchester United in 1997.

And despite his efforts in battling back from a broken leg and an ankle injury, Shearer could do nothing to prevent Newcastle losing successive Wembley cup finals - or England from crashing to more penalty heartache at World Cup 98.

His much-publicised falling out with Newcastle boss Ruud Gullit also threatened to sour the latter stages of Shearer's career.

But when the resultant stand-off ended with Gullit being sacked, it seemed to suggest that, in this case, one player is as big as the club.

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