Alan Shearer celebrates his 50th birthday today. He has come a long way since he first started a game for Southampton in 1988

By Steven Pye for That 1980s Sports Blog

Arsenal were in a great run of form when they travelled to the Dell to face Southampton in April 1988. They were unbeaten in eight league games and, even though they were missing Tony Adams and David O’Leary, they must have been feeling confident when they heard that Southampton would be without striker Danny Wallace. His replacement had impressed in youth football and had made a couple of appearances from the bench in recent weeks, but the prospect of facing Alan Shearer rather than Wallace must have appealed to the Arsenal defence.

Shearer had been spotted by Southampton scout Jack Hixon while playing for the Wallsend Boys Club in Newcastle as a 13-year-old. He moved to the club two years later and quickly set about justifying Hixon’s faith in him. Having scored 48 goals at youth team level for Southampton, he clearly knew where the net was, but his full debut was to be beyond his wildest dreams.

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