We’re just months shy of the 16-year anniversary of Alan Shearer retiring from football but the Newcastle legend still looks in fine fettle.
Now 51, Shearer understandably isn’t the athlete he once was but after partaking in a 30-minute HIIT session, it’s clear that the base level of his underlying success on a football pitch remains the same.
Shearer is an ambassador for Speedflex and their new concept workout called FORTIS, headed up by CEO Paul Ferris.
Aside from leading that operation, Ferris was a former footballer for Newcastle – before injury curtailed his career – as well as a physio for the club.
It was at the Magpies that the two would create a bond outside of football that now translates to their work with FORTIS. However, speaking to Shearer it’s clear that gym work wasn’t a passion of his during his prolific playing career.
‘I would’ve loved that if that was around in my time, then I think for rehab, for fitness for everything, it would have been great,’ he told Sportsmail exclusively after we were invited along to take part in FORTIS’ Speedflex launch at Watford Leisure Centre Woodside.
Alan Shearer spoke exclusively to Sportsmail about all things relating to his beloved Newcastle
He spoke to Sportsmail after partaking in in FORTIS’ Speedflex launch in Watford in January
‘I didn’t like going to the gym when I was playing, I hated it. There was no way I was going to do it when I finished playing and I eventually found this.
‘This and cycling are the only things I can really I can do because of my bad knees, ankles and back. For fitness and for everything else it works.
‘And as I said, I think it’s enjoyable – you get a buzz from it. You’re working hard and you’re getting a buzz like everyone else, so it definitely works 100 per cent.’
Shearer revealed that he didn’t like doing gym work during his illustrious goalscoring career
Shearer knows about the toil of the gym, having sustained three long-term injuries during his career. His first was a torn right anterior cruciate ligament while at Blackburn Rovers in 1992. Five years later he dislocated and displaced his ankle during pre-season, while his career was curtailed by a medial ligament injury suffered towards the end of the 2005-06 campaign.
Ferris was on hand to help Shearer’s rehabilitation on the latter two occasions – working for Newcastle as their physio for 13 years from 1993.
‘I had to do loads because I had three serious injuries,’ Shearer reflects on his rehab programme as a player. ‘And Paul, a lot of the time was my physio. So, I spent hours on end with Paul and we were alone in the gym nine till five, sometimes six/seven days-a-week to get back to fitness.
‘And then, slowly but surely, you’re out of the gym and then you’re only in when you had to do it two or three times a week.
‘I couldn’t do a lot of weights because I had problems with my back. So, it was just managing it really but it’s chalk and cheese to what’s available now in sport science.
‘Everything’s different – the pitches, the sport science, the grounds. When I started in the late 80s – 1988 was my debut – and you compare it to now… for one, the training pitches and match pitches are just incredible.’
As a player, he had three big injuries with Paul Ferris on hand to help his rehab with two of them
The advancement in medical science has without doubt improved the ability of footballers to bounce back from injuries sooner and stronger than 30 years ago. And when asked if this – coupled with the better quality of pitches – would have prolonged Shearer’s career, the iconic No 9 isn’t so sure.
‘I don’t know. I suppose if you go through your career nowadays without having at least one serious injury I think you’ve been fortunate.
‘I think with a number of games, the pace of the play along with the power, strength and conditioning that you have to be in, if you go through your career without having at least one you’ve been fortunate.
‘I had three so I was unfortunate so I don’t know whether it just happens after a number of games. Injuries are part and parcel, you’re always going to get them no matter how good or how bad the pitches are, you’re always going to get injuries.’
The Premier League’s all-time record goalscorer with 260, Shearer’s sublime career saw him plunder 409 goals in 797 games overall for Southampton, Blackburn, Newcastle and England.
The Premier League’s all-time record scorer with 260, he doesn’t think ‘what if’ about injuries
The 51-year-old scored 206 times in 405 appearances for Newcastle, making the No 9 shirt his own. Callum Wilson is the current incumbent of that jersey but his injuries woes have risen again, this time a calf and achilles injury sustained in their 1-1 draw with Manchester United on December 27.
On February 7, manager Eddie Howe revealed it is ‘slow progress’ with Wilson – who is only just walking unaided now – and no timeframe has been set on his return, although the club hope it will be for at least the last few games of the season.
Newcastle’s top goalscorer this season, with six goals in 15 appearances in all competitions, has endured an injury-plagued career – something Shearer sympathises with, wishing him a speedy recovery with Newcastle mired in a relegation battle.
‘He was Newcastle’s goalscorer, so to lose him for any period of time is a blow. However, I think with Callum’s career you know, at some stage of the season, you’re going to lose him for at least a quarter of it anyway.
‘That’s sort of what’s happened right throughout his career and sometimes a bit more. It’s probably no surprise that he has picked up an injury because that’s what his body is like, I think.
‘But he’s the one player in the Newcastle team that can get a scruffy goal from two yards out, he can sniff that opportunity where to be so there’s no doubt it’s a big blow for Newcastle having him out injured.’
Newcastle’s current No 9 Callum Wilson is out injured with an achilles and calf problem
The mega-rich Magpies only signed one forward during the January transfer window, despite their Saudi takeover, with the £25million acquisition of Chris Wood from relegation rivals Burnley.
The 30-year-old is yet to get off the mark on Tyneside, but has contributed to their three-game unbeaten Premier League streak since making his debut on January 15 – including Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over Everton at St James’ Park, and Newcastle have won seven points from nine with him in the team.
‘Yeah, I think it’s needs must, we needed a forward in. It’s a difficult market in January anyway, so they needed a forward in and they’ve weakened Burnley.
‘I would hope Wood gets more service than then he got, and I’m pretty sure he’s hoping for the same,’ added Shearer.
Chris Wood is yet to score in three games for Newcastle since joining from Burnley in January
Wood was the second of five arrivals in the January transfer window for Newcastle that cost a combined £96.5m (including add-ons). Kieran Trippier (£12m), Wood, Bruno Guimaraes (£35m) and Dan Burn (£11m) joined permantely, while Matt Targett signed on loan from Aston Villa.
Trippier, Burn and Targett will bolster Howe’s defensive options, one particular area where Shearer felt they needed strengthening when speaking prior to their arrivals.
‘It’s clear that they need extra bodies defensively,’ he said with his wishes now granted.
‘You don’t have to be a football expert to work that out with the way they’re conceding. They’ve got the second-worst defence in the league so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out where Newcastle needed to strengthen.’
Newcastle’s ability to spend so lavishly last month came following the club’s controversial £305m Saudi Arabian-led takeover by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) in October, who now control 80 per cent of the club.
Kieran Trippier was Newcastle’s first January signing, improving their defence immediately
It brought an end to Mike Ashley’s 14-year ownership of the Magpies – to the delight of their fanbase and Shearer, who believes Newcastle find themselves in relegation trouble due to a lack of investment under their former owner. During Ashley’s stewardship they were relegated twice and are staring at the drop again as they sit just one point above the relegation zone with 16 games remaining.
‘They’re in a situation because of a lack of investment over the last 14 years.
‘The turnover of players has been nowhere near what it should have been and could have been so they’re in that scenario, but of course Eddie was brought in to try and keep Newcastle up.
‘He wasn’t brought in to take them down, he was brought in to help keep Newcastle up and they’ve spent. I’m pretty sure that if you go and ask Burnley, Norwich or Watford if they can have that money then they would they would snap your hands off for it.
‘Newcastle are in a very fortunate position in terms of what they’ve got financially now, and the players that they signed, but they need more in.
‘The evidence is there for all to see. There’s every chance we will be relegated but that’s where they are.
Shearer is critical of Newcastle’s previous owner Mike Ashley and for his lack of investment
During Ashley’s 14-year ownership, Newcastle suffered relegation twice and often struggled
That can’t be said of the Magpies’ new owners who bought the club in October for £305m
‘I think it’s looking increasingly likely that it’ll be three from four in the relegation battle – Newcastle, Watford, Burnley and Norwich. I know Everton are getting sucked into it but it’s increasingly looking likely that it’ll be three from four.
‘Newcastle’s spend at the minute is great because we haven’t seen that for such a long time but the harsh reality is they need a lot more, let’s see.’
After sticking it to Everton on Tuesday night, there is every reason for Newcastle supporters to be optimistic about the end of the season.
A win at home to Aston Villa this afternoon may see Shearer revise his relegation battle prediction with the Magpies flying a little higher above the drop zone.
The investment in the January window has brought optimism to Newcastle’s survival hopes
Sportsmail’s Luke Augustus works up a sweat after doing the Speedflex workout with Shearer