Batigol: Shearer is the greatest
By Patrick Goss
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Inter striker Batistuta will be absent from Tuesday night's crunch clash because he is cup-tied - but he thinks his team-mates will have their work cut out to keep Shearer quiet.
"He is the greatest," Batigol told the Sunday People.
"I know at first hand how fierce the gladiatorial battles are between a striker and defenders.
"So, to maintain your performance as a top-class goalscorer over a long period of time takes phenomenal dedication, self belief and enormous willpower.
"If you then throw in a number of serious injuries ... how many? Three? And for the man to still be producing at the highest level is really an amazing feat.
"After a match against Juventus I met Alex Del Piero who like myself could only speak in the most glowing of terms about Shearer.
"He'd terrorised the Juve defenders when the clubs met in Newcastle.
"They found him one of the most difficult opponents they have ever faced. That is a real compliment.
"The coach Marcello Lippi had been purring at Shearer's performance.
"So much so that his strikers - Alex, David (Trezeguet), Marcello (Salas), Marco Di Vaio and Macelo Zalayeta - were ordered to take home videos and study Shearer's display.
"I know from my own experience of his presence on the field going back to France '98 and the World Cup Finals. To have come out of our tie losing must have badly scarred him.
"Yet his performances have not dipped - that takes huge strength of character.
"When you admire another player then it is right you should have something material to remember them by.
"I'd really like one of Shearer's No.9 shirts - and I hope to have one before our careers finish."