ONE of the first things Freddie Fletcher, Newcastle United's Chief Executive, was going to do when he returned to his office from the club's Far East tour was look up a dusty old photograph in his bottom drawer. The photograph, taken in 1983, showed a starry-eyed youngster sitting on the knee of Kevin Keegan after a coaching clinic in Newcastle. In those days, Keegan was in the twilight of his magnificent career and poised to lead Newcastle United back to the Promised Land of English soccer - the old First Division. The young lad on his knee was a certain Alan Shearer, a Newcastle United fanatic from Gosforth who dreamed of one day wearing the famous black and white shirt. The trouble was, that when Shearer, a little later, attended a trial at Newcastle he was handed a green shirt - and spent the weekend in goal. If his true talent had been spotted then by Newcastle instead of by Southampton, for whom he signed schoolboy forms aged 14, United could have saved themselves the GBP15 million they have just given Blackburn Rovers. During the club's recent Far East tour, Keegan, who has spent around GBP60 million since becoming manager in February 1992, was asked if Shearer was worth the world-record transfer fee. 'If you want a Rolex watch there are two days of getting one,' replied Keegan. 'You either steal it or you pay the going rate for top quality - and we have signed a great player in Alan Shearer. It's not his fault he cost GBP15 million.' During the 1996 European Championship, 25-year-old Shearer finally produced the goods in an England shirt and scored five goals to finish as the competition's top scorer. When Manchester United's GBP12 million offer for Shearer hit the newspapers shortly after Euro 96, Newcastle sat up and took notice. 'To be honest,' Fletcher said, 'we asked Blackburn a year ago if we could sign Shearer and they said 'no'. 'When we read about Manchester United's offer it appeared as though Blackburn may be ready to sell so we re-opened negotiations. 'Alan Shearer wanted to come home to Newcastle United and that was the most important factor in our favour.'