Shearer was born in Gosforth, Newcastle, in 1970 to working-class parents Alan and Anne Shearer. His father, a sheet-metal worker, encouraged a keen Shearer to play football in his youth, and the young player continued with the sport as he progressed through school. He was educated at Gosforth Central Middle School and Gosforth High School. Growing up playing on the streets of his hometown, he originally played in midfield because “it meant [he] could get more involved in the games.” Shearer captained his school team and helped a Newcastle City Schools team win a seven-a-side tournament at St James’ Park, before joining the amateur Wallsend Boys Club as a teenager. It was while playing for the Wallsend club that he was spotted by Southampton’s scout, Jack Hixon, which resulted in Shearer spending his summers training with the club’s youth team, a time he would later refer to as “the making of me”. Shearer had successful trials for First Division clubs West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City and Newcastle United, before being offered a youth contract with Southampton in April 1986. As a player, Shearer was often styled as a classic English centre-forward, owing to his strength, physical stature, heading ability and strong shot, which enabled him to be highly prolific goalscorer. Of his 206 Newcastle goals, 49 were scored with his head. Earlier in his career, especially at Southampton, Shearer played a more creative role: providing chances for fellow strikers, and making runs into space, owing to his early development as a midfielder. Later on in his career, Shearer played a more forward role, after his age robbed him of some of his pace. Able to hold the ball up well, he often functioned as a target man, providing balls for other players. Although his strength allowed him to hold on to the ball, his playing style sometimes brought him criticism – most commonly that his play was too physical, and that he used his elbows too aggressively. It was this which contributed to both of his sendings off, although one was later rescinded on appeal. As well as the two red cards, Shearer received 59 yellow cards during his career. Shearer was noted as a proficient penalty taker for both club and country, and he scored 45 times from the spot for Newcastle, where he was the first-choice taker. He also scored five goals from free-kicks for the north-east club. Shearer is married to Lainya, whom he met whilst a Southampton player. The couple lived locally with her parents during Shearer’s second year at the south coast club, and were married on 8 June 1991 at St. James’ Church in the city. In contrast to the portrayal of some WAGs (wives and girlfriends) of later players by the media, Lainya is described by Shearer as a quiet and reserved person, not comfortable in the spotlight her husband’s fame sometimes brought. The couple have three children. Shearer cited not wanting to uproot his family as a key reason for remaining in England during his career, having had the chance to move to Juventus or Barcelona when leaving Blackburn. Shearer’s family accompanied him onto the pitch following the striker’s testimonial in May 2006 as he performed a lap of honour at St James’ Park. On 6 December 2000, Shearer was given Honorary Freedom of the City of Newcastle upon Tyne, with the citation “in recognition of his role as captain of Newcastle United Football Club and as former captain of England which have enhanced the reputation of the City”. Shearer was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2001 Queen’s Birthday Honours and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for charitable services to the community in North East England. On 4 December 2006, Shearer was created a Doctor of Civil Law by Northumbria University, at a ceremony at Newcastle City Hall, where the University vice-chancellor declared that “Throughout his career Alan Shearer has been hard-working, committed, disciplined and focused in his endeavours, fighting back from career-threatening injuries with great determination and courage”. On 1 October 2009, Shearer was commissioned as Deputy Lieutenant of Northumberland, having been nominated by the Duchess of Northumberland in her capacity as Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, and approved for the position by the Queen. In this role, Shearer, along with 21 other deputies, is the stand-in for the Duchess when she cannot fulfill her role as the Queen’s official representative in the region at official engagements. Deputies must live within seven miles of the county boundaries, and retain their appointment until age 75. The Duchess said of the appointment that “You could not find a more iconic person than Alan, not just for what he has done in football but for all the extra work he tirelessly does for charity and communities. I am delighted he has accepted the role of Deputy Lieutenant because he is a real role model. I have promised him he is not going to have to do too much, but even if it is just one occasion a year he is the perfect choice”. On 7 December 2009, Shearer was made a Doctor of Civil Law by Newcastle University. Chancellor Liam Donaldson stated “Newcastle United are my team. Alan Shearer is more than just a local legend, he’s probably one of the greatest footballers of all time”. On 12 September 2016, a statue of Shearer’s likeness was unveiled outside St James’ Park. It was sculpted by Tom Maley, and paid for by the Shepherd family.