ALAN SHEARER and Michael Owen were an England strike-force that breathed fear into the opposition.
Built upon a budding friendship, their play was often telepathic as target-man Shearer offered a buffer for the live-wire Owen to pick up the pieces.
But today, the pair don’t see eye-to-eye – as has been highlighted by their Twitter spat following the serialisation of Owen’s book, ‘Michael Owen: Reboot – My Life, My Time’.
The pair traded insults on Twitter – bringing their simmering differences into the public domain.
A feud ignited over 10-years ago because of Shearer’s belief that Owen let him down during his ill-fated spell as manager of Newcastle in 2009, when the Magpies were relegated.
So where did it all go wrong for these two Three Lions legends?
TEAM-MATES AND ROOM-MATES
In 2005-06, then-Newcastle manager Graeme Souness splashed £17m on Owen – breaking their £15m transfer record originally set by Shearer.
It was no-brainer given their partnership for England, and Owen signed a deal for £120k-per-week.
Shearer, who is now 50, moved Owen into his pad, before Owen then found his own property in Darras Hall, an upland estate in Ponteland, where his strike-partner also lived.
But after a successful start to his season, scoring seven times in his first 11 games, he broke his foot and was ruled out for the rest of the season.
Writing in the book serialised by The Mirror, Owen said: “I’d lived with him in the early days and we saw each other socially when we both lived at Darras Hall.
“In my eyes, he was not only a strike partner on the pitch from a playing perspective; he was also a good mate.
“At no time did I get the impression that he saw things any differently. To put it simply, there has been a lot of lies, bulls*** and general mis-information surrounding the end of my time at Newcastle.”
Owen and Shearer’s friendship turned sour when the former Newcastle No.9 was brought in to save the Premier League giants from relegation in the 2008-09 season.
In his eight games in charge – Shearer’s Newcastle recorded just one win and two draws.
The final nail in the coffin came on the final day of the season against Aston Villa at Villa Park when his side failed to get the point that would’ve saved them from the drop.
Owen was made the fall guy, with his own fans often chanting, ‘what a waste of money’ when he was on the pitch in his time there – despite scoring 30 goals in 79 appearances for the club.
He failed to score in those games, missing the penultimate game of the season, a 1-0 home defeat to Fulham.
Interestingly, in the 2017 autobiography ‘The Boy on the Shed’, former Newcastle physiotherapist Paul Ferris wrote that Owen missed that match because he “didn’t want to risk his groin because he was out of contract in the summer and was saying, ‘I’ll not get a contract at another club if I’m injured’.”
The forward for that book was by… Alan Shearer.
OWEN’S TOUGH WORDS
In an extract from his book, Owen writes: “He [Shearer] was brought in at St. James’ Park as the saviour, the local boy. It could have been a great story.
“But he failed. Newcastle United were relegated. Perhaps rather than examine his own shortcomings, it felt easier to blame Michael Owen.
“I was a week away from fitness for the final game of the season that saw Newcastle needing a point at Aston Villa to avoid relegation.
“I told him that I wasn’t fully fit but was prepared to play. As I left his office that day, he made an insinuation that led me to believe he thought I had half an eye on my next contract.
“I’m not stupid – we both knew I was out of contract in a few weeks.
“It wasn’t until three months later, I discovered that Alan Shearer was apparently seething with me.
“Not only that, it transpired that he was telling anyone who’d listen what he thought of me.
“When you analyse it, it all makes sense. Shearer’s record as manager in the last eight games of that 2008/2009 season was dire: lost 5, drew 2, won 1. These are hardly God-like stats.
“The truth is, the damage was done long before we went to Villa Park needing to draw. I feel a little sorry for him.
“I’m gutted for him that it never worked out at Newcastle, Alan Shearer and I still haven’t talked this out face to face and that’s a shame because, as I’ve said many, many times, we were very good friends.”