Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Striker Hoping He Can Emulate Shearer; Legend Inspires Alan

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Striker Hoping He Can Emulate Shearer; Legend Inspires Alan

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Gilder

ALAN Smith last night identified Alan Shearer as his striking inspiration and admitted that following in the Newcastle legend's fabled footsteps was a dream come true.

The England international played in United's attack for the first time during Sunday's 3-2 win against Everton and, although a player more at home in midfield these days was unable to open his account in a Magpies shirt, it was a role he relished.

Smith partnered Obafemi Martins and Michael Owen in a stirring encounter as Sam Allardyce's team engineered a result that lifted them back into the Premier League table's top half. And although both players can be considered to rank among top-flight football's finest talents, it was the chance to emulate a striker no longer terrorising defences that held the greatest appeal.

"I loved playing up front against Everton," said Smith, who, having started his career as an out-and-out attacker at Leeds, has been deployed in a withdrawn position at St James's Park - a role to which he became accustomed during his career at Manchester United. "While I was playing, I kept thinking about Alan Shearer and the fact that he was such a great player in that position for Newcastle and England. I was thinking about him throughout the game, he was driving me on."

Shearer retired following the 2005-06 season having smashed Jackie Milburn's long-standing scoring record with his 206 goals in Newcastle colours. Almost 18 months on, the former England captain's legend endures at St James's Park. Given that his long-term future appears to lie in the Magpies midfield, Smith cannot be expected to emulate Shearer's exploits at St James's Park but a combative player feels he has much to offer in a team that can no longer be considered a pushover.

Smith's tough tackling has seen him collect five bookings in 10 appearances following his pounds 6m move from Old Trafford, but a player who has attempted to set the tone with his industrious efforts is confident his approach is the correct one.

"We've got players at Newcastle who are prepared to fight for everything," he said. "I had a bash to the head, a scraped hand and I picked up another booking so I will miss the game against Spurs (on October 22), but everyone will run through a brick wall for this side and that makes me believe we'll be fine this seas on. …

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