Supporters club: The Alan Shearer Foundation

Ex Newcastle United goalkeeper and co-owner of charitable business Oddballs, Steve Harper, speaks to former team mate Alan Shearer about Euro 2016 and the plans for the Alan Shearer Foundation

Alan Shearer was recently awarded a CBE by the Queen in her birthday honours list. He’s the Premier League all-time record goal scorer with 260 goals and he also scored 30 goals in 63 appearances for England. He’s now the main pundit on Match of the Day and also fills his time raising money for numerous charities, including the Alan Shearer Foundation. The foundation supports the Alan Shearer Centre in Newcastle, which offers specialist respite, residential and social provision for people with complex and sensory impairments. I caught up with him towards the end of Euro 2016 to find out more…

Steve: How’s your month in France been?
Alan: It’s been a long and very busy month. I’ve really enjoyed it, but it all went a bit flat after England’s exit. Overall, I think the standard has been poor but despite that, there have been a few exciting games and I’ve enjoyed watching Iceland and Wales.
The experiment of expanding the tournament to 24 teams with most third place teams qualifying hasn’t worked for me.

S: How do you rate England’s tournament?
A: They didn’t play well at all, barring a couple of 15 minute spells. They got what they deserved in going out at the last 16 stage.
After the ease of their qualification, it was a huge anti-climax …again!
If we can’t beat Slovakia, Russia and Iceland then something is seriously wrong.

S: You’ve been retired from football for ten years now, do you miss it?
A: I only miss the 90 minutes of a game. I don’t miss everything else: the where to be, what to do, what to wear, the training, etc.
The adrenaline rush of playing professional sport is irreplaceable and even though I get a buzz from live TV and I get the odd invite to play golf with big names such as Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, nothing will come close to it.

S: You had a testimonial game at the end of your decade at Newcastle United and the Alan Shearer Centre followed soon after – how did that come about?
A: I could never have kept the money that the fans paid to attend my testimonial. I wanted to give it to local charities but play an active part in where it went and how it was used.
The idea of the centre was put to me and I liked it. We found the accommodation, which needed renovating, and it went from there.

S: You must feel very proud of what you’ve created?
A: Every time I drive into the centre and I’m greeted by smiling faces it gives me great satisfaction. I drive past it regularly on my way to Close House and seeing the sign by the A69 makes me very proud.

S: Tell us about the work that goes on at The Alan Shearer Centre.
A: It’s the only respite and activity centre for disabled people and their families in the UK and people travel from all over the UK to use it.
It has a hydrotherapy pool, sensory room, ball pool, a cave and a music room. It’s a safe and specially adapted environment for people with a range of disabilities and the ages of people using it span from newborns to people in their eighties.
The best part about it, because of the generosity of the people who continue to support us, is that the facility is provided completely free, too.

S: What are the plans for the Alan Shearer Centre, moving forward?
A: We’re continually renovating the property to improve the fantastic services and facilities that are provided there. There’ll be bedrooms upstairs now for families to improve their stay and we’re making the hydrotherapy pool bigger, to accommodate more people.

S: What upcoming foundation events should people keep an eye out for?
A: We’ve been fortunate enough to have some big names attend our annual ball and we’ve got another superstar coming in February.
We had Ronan Keating the first year, which I thought would take some beating, but since then we’ve also had Olly Murs, Gary Barlow and Ed Sheeran. The hard part is to try and improve the event year on year.
There are people who have attended the annual ball every year. They have been incredibly supportive and very generous and we hope this will continue.
We also have an annual golf day at the wonderful Close House, which is very well supported by the people of the region, by Ant and Dec and the likes of Lee Westwood and many other well-known names.

S: Finally, it’s an Olympic year; you were in Brazil two years ago for the World Cup – how was it, for anyone considering travelling across?
A: I was there for five weeks and stayed next to Copacabana beach. It was brilliant. It was buzzing and vibrant and there wasn’t a hint of trouble. If the Olympics is anything like the World Cup was, it’ll be an amazing event.

Steve Harper
www.myoddballs.com
@steveharper37

Alan Shearer Foundation
www.alanshearerfoundation.org.uk

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