A proud Geordie who achieved his boyhood dream by playing for his beloved Newcastle United – becoming the club’s all-time record goalscorer and still to this day the leading goalscorer in the Premier League with an incredible 260 goals – it’s fair to say that Alan Shearer is a passionate champion about football and his home city.
“I love Newcastle. The football team, the city, the people, there is nowhere like it. I have travelled around the country and the world during my time as a player and working in the media and Newcastle is an amazing place, for so many reasons,” he said.
Alan still lives in Newcastle with his family and is proud to have returned home, after his enjoyable times at Southampton and Blackburn during his playing career, and his many trips around the world while playing for England.
The legendary striker, who scored 206 goals for Newcastle in 10 years with Newcastle United, admits that many of his career highlights were spent with his hometown team, which he signed for in 1996 for a then-world-record transfer fee of £15m.
“Playing for and captaining England was the ultimate honour and privilege, and to win the Premier League title with Blackburn was also a huge achievement and something I will never forget.
“But I always dreamed of playing for my hometown team, the one I watched and idolised since I was a kid, so to realise that dream was really something special,” said Alan, whose countless awards during his playing career include being named PFA Player of the Year in 1995 and finishing third in the FIFA World Player of the Year the following year, behind global footballing giants Ronaldo and George Weah.
“Match days at St James’ Park are such a huge occasion. Whether you’re a player on the pitch or a fan in the stands, the noise, the roar of 52,000 fans, the passion, the love of the team, it just hits you. It’s hard to put into words. I’ve had some amazing days and fantastic memories there, and I continue to do so, as a fan these days.”
While Alan continues to watch Newcastle at St James’ Park as often as his commitments will allow, he is also pleased to see the increasing number of other major events that are being held at the stadium, and indeed around the wider city.
In recent years, St James’ Park has played host to the Rugby World Cup in 2015, including staging one of the All Blacks’ fixtures; Olympic football during 2012, which saw teams including Brazil playing matches in Newcastle; and the Magic Weekend, a two-day rugby league extravaganza, which St James’ Park will host for a fourth consecutive year in 2018. The stadium is now set to host the European Rugby Champions Cup final in 2019.
NewcastleGateshead has built a reputation around the world for major sporting events. The Great North Run, the half marathon which began back in 1981, now attracts over 50,000 professional athletes, competitors and fun runners from around the globe. The city has also been chosen as the destination for the World Transplant Games in 2019, after successfully hosting the British Transplant Games in 2015. And in 2017 it hosted the British Masters at Close House, with golf being Alan’s second love this was a great coup of the area.
As a sportsman and sports fan alike, Alan is enthused that NewcastleGateshead is continuing to prove popular as a destination for major sporting events.
“In my unbiased view Newcastle as a venue it is second to none. Not only a city dedicated to its home football team, it is also now host to other major sporting events at St James’ Park and across NewcastleGateshead.
“The stadium is in the centre of what is a very compact city so when there’s something big going on, you can sense it as soon as you arrive and all around the place, you feel like you’re part of something special.”
But it is not just sporting major events the city is attracting. Following an intensive bidding process, NewcastleGateshead was recently selected to host the Great Exhibition of the North 2018. A summer-long showcase of the North’s role in shaping the economy of tomorrow, the event will bring the region’s historical achievements and current strengths into the limelight on a scale that has not been seen since the 1951 Festival of Britain.
“For events like the Great North Run, Great Exhibition of the North and World Transplant Games, which involve competitors, spectators and visitors coming from across the world, the city also has some impressive hotels, places to visit, places to eat and drink.
“And of course, you get that famous Geordie welcome too.”
Alan, who was awarded a CBE and is a deputy lieutenant of Northumberland, is also well known for his charity work, and is actively involved in the Newcastle community. Following his retirement from football, he founded the Alan Shearer Foundation, which directly supports his flagship Alan Shearer Centre in the city.
The centre is the UK’s only respite and activity centre for disabled people and their families, and works with people from across the country.
“Following my playing career, I wanted to give something back to the city and people that had served me so well as a footballer and in my life. I therefore chose to give the money from my testimonial game to North East England charities close to my heart and it is also an absolute privilege to be able to help disadvantaged people through the Alan Shearer Centre.
“It’s brilliant that the centre is the only facility of its type in the whole UK. There are so many amazing things here in Newcastle,” he said.
“As a Geordie, it gives me immense pride to see my city flourishing and with more major events already planned, its reputation and standing as one of the leading event destinations in the UK and further afield will only continue to grow.”
Business events contribute over £100m to the economy of Newcastle and Gateshead and you can play a part. If you know of a conference related to your industry or area of expertise and would like to bring that event to North East England, contact NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau. The convention bureau, which provides free services, can help you create a successful bid and then to stage an inspiring and rewarding conference in the region.