Over the years, numerous great footballers have come close to joining Manchester United, but few can claim to have turned them down twice. One such case is the legendary English striker Alan Shearer, who can easily be regarded as the best in his position of his generation on the British Isles.
Although the powerhouse ended his career 17 years ago, he still tops the goal-scoring charts in the Premier League with his 260 goals, and he has scored over 400 goals in his entire career.
Shearer had the unique opportunity to play for Manchester United not once but twice. United’s manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, desperately wanted the striker in his squad, but, unfortunately, it never came to fruition.
The first time Shearer appeared in United’s transfer plans was back in 1992 when he was still a promising striker at Southampton. However, instead of Old Trafford, he ended up at Ewood Park, signing with Blackburn for a staggering £3.6 million, which was an astronomical sum for that time. He scored 112 goals in 138 league matches for Rovers and won the title in 1995.
The “Red Devils” didn’t suffer much, though, as they managed to acquire Eric Cantona, who helped them win two consecutive titles and the FA Cup.
In 1996, Shearer had another chance to join Old Trafford. However, he chose to move to his hometown club Newcastle instead. The “Magpies” paid a record-breaking £15 million for the striker, who was a huge star in English football at that time. Shearer went on to score over 200 goals for the club before hanging up his boots in 2006, although he didn’t manage to win any more trophies. Nevertheless, he became a club legend and an idol for everyone who wore the black-and-white jersey.
Of course, Manchester United continued to win plenty of trophies without Shearer‘s services, but just imagine how the “Red Devils” would have looked with the Englishman in their attack. Martin Edwards, the club’s president at that time, shares in more detail how and why Ferguson couldn’t secure the deal with the great Alan.
“In fact, I had the deal with Shearer. His contract was ready, and we had an agreement. Alan was at Alex Ferguson’s house, talking to him, and he assured us he wanted to come. I think the problem was with Blackburn’s chairman, Jack Walker, who wasn’t a fan of ours at all. We were local rivals, and both clubs are from Lancashire.”
“He didn’t want Shearer to come to Manchester United. They were very close, and Walker was like a father figure to Alan, so I don’t think he wanted to upset him by joining us. I’m not sure Walker would have allowed it anyway; he was happy to sell him to Newcastle because they weren’t a threat to Blackburn.”
When the deal with Alan Shearer fell through, Ferguson turned his attention to Fiorentina‘s star Gabriel Batistuta, but Edwards reveals that the wages in the Premier League at that time couldn’t match the financial power of Serie A.
“We looked at the situation, but at that time, the wage that Batistuta wanted… I can’t remember the exact figures, but it threatened to break our financial structure. We had to back out.”
Meanwhile, Shearer also shares his perspective on the matter.
“Of course, I was tempted to go to Manchester United, but I don’t regret my decision. I had a fantastic time at Blackburn and became a champion. I fulfilled my dream of playing for the club of my hometown, Newcastle. I have memories that will warm me forever and a goal-scoring record that makes me proud.”