It's 32 years to the day since Alan Shearer marked his full debut with a stunning hat-trick, as Southampton defeated Arsenal in the old First Division at The Dell. Here, we relive some more highlights from the prolific marksman's time as a Saint...
5. Clinical finishing against Chelsea
6th October 1990
How many times did Shearer find himself in this position throughout the ‘90s? Here, at just 20 years of his age, the centre-forward was already proving that you should never doubt him to finish the job when one-on-one with any goalkeeper. Despite his youth, Saints’ promising number nine was very physical, throwing his weight around to shrug off England defender Tony Dorigo, as he raced on to Andy Cook’s first-time pass in behind the Chelsea defence. Future Saints stopper Dave Beasant stood in his way, another man with England caps to his name, but Shearer was no respecter of reputation and drove the ball unerringly into the net to open the scoring in a six-goal thriller at The Dell that would finish 3-3.
4. Haunting Chelsea again
23rd March 1991
By the time Saints headed to Stamford Bridge for the reverse fixture in the spring, Chris Nicholl’s side were nervously peering over their shoulders, having won just one of their last seven matches. That left the visitors just four points clear of the relegation places, but Shearer and a similarly fresh-faced Matt Le Tissier produced the goods as Saints chalked up a vital 2-0 victory in the capital. It was Shearer who broke the deadlock in the first half, peeling away to the back post to score with a simple header after some fine wing play from the fleet-footed Rod Wallace. Le Tissier’s second-half penalty wrapped up the win, sparking a run of 15 points from the last nine games – a third of Saints’ season tally – to secure survival.
3. Brushing Burrows aside
7th December 1991
It was always a special occasion when Saints welcomed the big boys to The Dell, and Graeme Souness’s class of ’91 were not alone as a Liverpool side who struggled to find their usual rhythm on the south coast. Having been held in a goalless first half, Shearer upset the visitors further by sending David Burrows crashing down to earth with an old-fashioned shoulder barge, before cleverly lobbing the ball over goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar to score another vital opener. Shearer had a happy habit of scoring the first goal in games, and, even though Jamie Redknapp rescued a point for Liverpool, it was enough to earn a valuable share of the spoils for the home team in another successful fight against the drop.
2. Kicking off the season in style
17th August 1991
The 1991/92 season – the last before the inception of the Premier League – was only two minutes old when Shearer gave Saints the perfect start against Tottenham. Receiving the ball with his back to goal, he killed the ball in an instant before turning away from Steve Sedgley and trying his luck from near the right corner of the penalty area. Erik Thorstvedt in the Spurs goal dived full length but could not get anywhere near it, as Shearer’s rocket rose all the way into the far corner of the net, nestling just underneath the crossbar. It was the first of 13 league goals for the striker, who left for Blackburn at the end of the season, where he lifted the Premier League trophy in 1994/95.
1. Making his name against Arsenal
9th April 1988
Having made his senior debut as a substitute at Chelsea, Shearer became national news after he was handed his first start two weeks later. Why? He marked the occasion with a hat-trick, of course. All three goals underlined his poaching instinct and ability to find space in the box. First, he made a late run between two Arsenal defenders to meet a right-wing cross with a stooping header, down into the ground and between the legs of goalkeeper John Lukic. His second arrived courtesy of a cross from the opposite flank, as Shearer again perfected his timing and was brave enough to beat the onrushing Lukic with another downward header. An historic hat-trick was completed via a hat-trick of crosses – reacting quickest to hook the ball into the net after first striking the crossbar from close range.