Former Blackburn and Southampton striker Alan Shearer remembers how his turbulent relationship with Ruud Gullit nearly pushed him out of Newcastle United before Sir Bobby Robson joined and saved his career.
Shearer lifted the lid on his troubled period under Gullit, the former England international was left on the bench, by his manager at the time [Gullit] for a Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland in 1999, as a young Paul Robinson led the line on the day.
The Magpies lost the match and it was reported that was the end of Gullit's career at Newcastle, and he was subsequently replaced by Sir Bobby Robson.
The Premier League legend went on to score 206 goals in all competitions for the Magpies and ended his career playing for the club which he supported as a kid.
But, it would have been a different story for Shearer if Robson wasn’t employed at Newcastle.
“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 a Sky Sports show - 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 explained further on that night they lost to Sunderland when he and an equally angry Duncan Ferguson were dropped, recalling the later 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!”