Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I'm Here for the Love of It, Said Star; World Record Shearer HOW LEGEND EXPLAINED HIS SURPRISE MOVE TO NEWCASTLE TO THE FANS

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

I'm Here for the Love of It, Said Star; World Record Shearer HOW LEGEND EXPLAINED HIS SURPRISE MOVE TO NEWCASTLE TO THE FANS

Article excerpt

Byline: LEE RYDER Chief Sports Writer lee.ryder@ncjmedia.com @lee_ryder

BACK in the summer of 1996, it is fair to say most Newcastle United fans were enduring a major hangover after watching the Magpies blow a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

United surrendered in the title race, but news the club had beaten the eventual champions Manchester United to his signature helped lift the gloom on Tyneside.

I walked up to St James' Park as a fan to watch Shearer's unveiling and was joined by thousands who also wanted to get a look at the PS15m new boy.

Shearer instantly struck a chord with Newcastle supporters when he said: "Money has nothing to do with it.

"I decided to sign for Newcastle because I wanted to play for Newcastle.

"If money comes my way, that is fine. I will deal with that when it comes.

"It will not change me - after all, I am a sheet metal worker's son from Newcastle." There were roars of approval from the fans outside as those words were piped out through the Tannoy outside the Leazes End.

Shearer was the local boy who made good and fans were celebrating the fact he would be wearing the No 9 shirt.

Some were on holiday, some had sneaked out of the office but for others it was simply a case of turning up to see if this deal had happened.

Even though Newcastle had almost just won the Premier League title this transfer was unbelievable as Shearer could have gone anywhere he wanted.

Barcelona, AC Milan, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal all wanted Shearer - but he opted to return to his roots.

United fans knew they had signed a world-class striker but the fact he was a Geordie also made it extra special.

As the supporters walked away from the public press conference, a chant went off with fans chanting: "He's coming home, he's coming home, he's coming...Shearer's coming home."

Over the years Shearer set the standards at Newcastle.

He epitomised what United should be about and he represented the fans within the four walls of the club.

Shearer went on to be captain at Newcastle and if players stepped out of line he would be quick to tell them exactly that.

In 1996 the supporters had been put at arm's length by the club for Shearer's arrival, with the press conference taking place inside the stadium and fans were left outside to listen to it through a speaker.

Even before the days of selfies and Twitter, fans could not have got close to Shearer if they tried.

However, I was fortunate enough to get to know the legendary striker a little later in life.

By the time Shearer was playing his last season for Newcastle our paths would cross in a way I could never have predicted a decade or so before.

He felt his I remember the first time I met Shearer as a reporter for The Chronicle vividly. …

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