Alan Shearer has lifted the lid on his turbulent period under Ruud Gullit at Newcastle and how close he came to leaving the club before Sir Bobby Robson joined.
Shearer was left on the bench by Gullit alongside an equally disgruntled Duncan Ferguson for a Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland in 1999, with youngster Paul Robinson picked to lead the line.
That was the beginning of the end for Gullit at Newcastle as his team lost the game and he was subsequently replaced by Robson.
Shearer went on to score 206 goals in all competitions for Newcastle and ended his career with his boyhood club, but it all could have been different if Robson had not been given the reins.
“I was having rows with Gullit – he didn’t want me at Newcastle and he made that plain for me,” said Shearer, who was speaking on Goals On Sunday.
“If Ruud had stayed at Newcastle then I would have had to leave. He didn’t and Bobby came in. The first thing Bobby said to me was you’ve got to start playing football with a smile on your face again and start getting defenders turned the other way and running towards their own goal.
“In his first home game we beat Sheffield Wednesday 8-0 and I managed to score five. I think it’s fair to say he got me back on track. If it wasn’t for Sir Bobby I would have had to leave Newcastle. He took us from a relegation battle into the Champions League. Man-management-wise he was an absolute genius.”
Shearer expanded further on that famous night against Sunderland when he and Ferguson were dropped, recalling the subsequent fallout with Gullit.
“You’re going to get left out at some stage of your career but I think there is a way to leave someone out,” Shearer said.
“I found out an hour and half before kick off on the board in the dressing room. I was captain at the time and he didn’t even tell me I was left out of the team, which I thought was disrespectful. We got beat by Sunderland and I thought rather than tell him after the game I’d be professional and go tell him the next morning.
“I got my kids up nice and early, dropped them at school half an hour early so I could be first in the office. I get to the training ground – still raging – and I burst into the office to have a word with him and Big Dunc is already there tearing the wallpapers off the wall because he had also left him out also. So he beat me to it!”