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People profile: Alan Shearer

Football pundit and Speedflex investor

Published in Sports Management Jul Aug 2017 issue 132
Following a stellar career, Alan Shearer is now the face of Speedflex and a respected football pundit
Following a stellar career, Alan Shearer is now the face of Speedflex and a respected football pundit

Picking up the phone and hearing Alan Shearer’s soft Geordie lilt can be quite a surreal experience, particularly if you’re a big football fan and regular viewer of Match of the Day.

Even before Shearer’s punditry made his voice one of the most recognisable on television, his unmistakable tones were regularly heard throughout a stellar two-decade football career, during which he scored a record 260 Premier League goals and captained England 34 times.

Today, though, rather than discussing the weekend’s Premier League fixtures, he’s talking to Sports Management about his life after football, specifically his investment in fitness equipment company Speedflex.

“I always said that I would never go to the gym once I finished playing football, because I’d spent every day of my life in a gym for 20 years,” Shearer chuckles. “I was determined to do hardly anything when I finished, but that lasted about a month and I realised I had to do something.”

Shearer was introduced to Speedflex, a “low impact, high intensity” piece of equipment that allows the user to work out at a level appropriate for their fitness level and physiology.

“A friend of mine in Newcastle asked me if I knew anyone who might be interested in going to America to have a look at this machine,” Shearer explains. “So I recommended the physiotherapist that had been with me during all my years at Newcastle United.

“He went over, loved it, had a concept for it, brought it back, gave it to the owner Graham Wylie and that’s how it really started.

“I tried the machine and loved it. It was quick – you can do your work within an hour. So I decided to invest in it myself.”

Speedflex employs a combination of cardio and resistance training to create high-intensity circuit training sessions led by a personal trainer. Machines are designed to respond to force, meaning there are no weights.

The former Newcastle United striker acts as the “face” of the company, which has centres dotted around the UK, in London, Leeds, Surrey, Aberdeenshire and Newcastle, as well as sites in Dubai and Dallas.

The company has plans to expand, he says, although the majority of the decisions are finalised by “brains of the business” Wylie.

Coaching ambitions
It could have been so different for Shearer. Despite starting his punditry career shortly after hanging up his boots in 2006, he realised his original post-retirement ambition when he was appointed as manager of his beloved Newcastle United during the latter part of the 2008-09 season.

Unfortunately for Shearer, he couldn’t prevent the club from being relegated during his eight-game spell. He always thought he would go into coaching following retirement, but that short period was his first and only time in the role.

“I realised the longer you’re out, the harder it is to get back in, and then I thought, ‘no, I’m really happy with punditry’. So I knuckled down, stuck at it, took all the advice I could get, and I’m a lucky lad to have that,” he says.

Shearer’s success in the media means that he has been in the limelight for almost 30 years, while some of his contemporaries who played with and against him at club and international level have faded into obscurity – highlighting the issues elite athletes face when leaving the sport they have served for so long. Even well-paid Premier League footballers.

A difficult transition
“There are a lot of players that disappear or have problems,” says Shearer. “You don’t get a lot of advice from the clubs because they don’t employ you anymore. It hurts a lot of players, but that’s the harsh reality.”

The Premier League has turned to Shearer to offer transitioning players advice within a player care role.

“When you’re finished you are literally finished, and it’s difficult for some players to come to terms with,” he explains.

“It’s hard because all you’ve done since you’ve left school is go into training at 10am, go home, rest. Then train the next day and get ready for the next games. It’s a really difficult transition when you finish.”

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