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English Premier League

Alan Shearer says England have given fans ‘love and hope’ again – and thinks he’d get in Gareth Southgate’s side

  • Three Lions legend was ‘sick of the hype’ surrounding the national team but is now a fan
  • Premier League record scorer raises funds for Hong Kong branch of his boyhood club
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2018, 2:10pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2018, 9:28pm

“I’d get in the England team,” said Alan Shearer, “I’d be confident of that.”

The former England international was speaking ahead of Gareth Southgate’s side’s win over Croatia at Wembley, a victory that secured them top spot in their Nations League group and a place in the finals next summer.

It’s Southgate that he credits with changing England.

“What he has given back to the fans of England is a bit of hope and a bit of belief again because that had been lost,” Shearer said in Hong Kong during the international break.

“Everyone had fallen out of love with the national team, because everyone was used to them going to tournaments but when you get there you get knocked out. That’s what happened with England.”

The World Cup in the summer changed that, he added.

The English Premier League’s record goal scorer classifies himself as a “fan” now. “I want us to do well. I’d got fed up with England getting to tournaments and not doing well. I was sick of the hype of us all saying ‘we’re gonna do this’ or ‘we’re gonna do that’ and expectations were really low going into the past couple of tournaments. Gareth has given us all that little bit of love and hope back.”

With 30 goals in 63 appearances in a Three Lions shirt, Shearer played his part for the national team but the journey to playing in the 1998 World Cup started years before as a child in his native Newcastle at Wallsend Boys Club.

Established in 1904 the club has been a conveyor belt of talent over the years including England international Peter Beardsley, multiple Premier League winner Steve Bruce and Champions League winner Michael Carrick.

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Great to be back in Hong Kong with the @wallsendboysclubhk supporting their great work.

A post shared by Alan Shearer (@ashearer9) on Nov 13, 2018 at 3:43am PST

The Hong Kong branch of the club was set up in 2014 by three of its former youth players, but the intention is not to find the next Premier League footballer, explained chairman Tony Sealy.

Instead the non-profit organisation has begun with giving back to disadvantaged youth, starting last year with 10 orphans who they are putting through coaching at the Hong Kong Football Club’s junior programme.

The plan, Sealy said, is to expand that in time along with gaining charitable status.

Shearer was in Hong Kong to help raise funds for his old club with a week of events including a dinner at Sports Road and seeing the youngsters in action in the football programme at the weekend.

“The more people that love and care about football and giving kids an opportunity then the more chances that the kids will get,” Shearer said.

“Obviously I have history with Wallsend Boys Club back in England. They are creating the brand here and giving kids a chance to play football. I love football, always have done, ever since I was a kid and a ball was thrown at my feet.

“I think it’s hugely important that everyone should be given that same opportunity that I was given. To play football isn’t just for the elite but for everyone.”

The club talks of the Wallsend Way. What does that mean to arguably their most successful graduate?

“It’s not just about football,” Shearer said. “It’s about learning, it’s about growing up. It’s about finding out who you are and where you come from.

“That’s certainly what I was taught, as well as trying to learn the game of football at a relatively early age. I probably learned more at Wallsend Boys Club than I did going to school.

“It taught me values as well as learning about the game of football.”

These are values Shearer still holds years later.

“I’m 48 years of age now and I went to Wallsend Boys Club when I was an 11 or 12-year-old boy,” he said. “They were great times.”

Aside from the football, Shearer “made some great friends” and not just with his fellow players. “I still speak to one or two of the coaches who were coaching me then, I speak to them now.”

Does Shearer think that the “Wallsend Way” will easily translate to Hong Kong? “I don’t think there’s a doubt about that. We’re all the same.”