If you want a Rolex you steal it or save up. I saved up for Al; By KEVIN KEEGAN.
And it was no surprise when the world's most expensive footballer wasn't named on Newcastle's substitutes' bench before the Singapore select side were overrun 5-0 here in the National Stadium.
Boss Kevin Keegan, anxious to keep the lid on the Shearer celebrations, also gave the red light to a Hollywood-style cavalcade.
Shearer was invited to sit aboard a 200mph pounds 125,000 sports car for a lap of honour in front of the capacity 50,000 crowd.
Keegan, in keeping with the low-key policy before Shearer is introduced to the adoring Tyneside masses on Tuesday, shook his head.
"The car would probably have run out of petrol anyway," he joked, so as not to upset his Far East hosts. "But really it's not been our scene this week to do things as extravagant as this.
"They wanted me to go around in it as well but I declined, too. Alan felt that he wouldn't have been comfortable doing it. He just preferred to walk out to the crowd and I'm sure they appreciated that. He's not like that, anyway."
It doesn't take an MGM-style production to show how much Shearer is worth to king Kevin and his golden title dream. Keegan sums it up as though he was just popping into a bazaar in downtown Singapore.
He says in answer to anyone asking if pounds 15million is a burden: "If you want a Rolex watch you either steal it or pay the money it costs. He's a player who is worth paying the money for. It's not his fault he cost pounds 15million.
"I am just pleased we got him. He will be sensational around these players at this club."
Shearer was clearly desperate to get his show on the road. After all, he's not only here for the goodwill of this independence day celebration city.
He spent the last 48 hours getting down to the serious business of preparing for the start of the season, but he could make a brief appearance on the final leg of the tour in Japan on Sunday.
The England hero spent two hours pumping iron in the hotel gym while his team-mates took the morning off to visit a local crocodile farm and the many souvenir shops.
And then, when others popped into the famous Raffles Hotel, Shearer was still working out under the supervision of coach Chris McMenemy.
His weight-training complete, Shearer was in the hotel pool for endless lengths before the rest of the lads got back for lunch.
Shearer wasn't even listed as one of the nine substitutes against the Singapore All Stars - but that didn't stop him taking a huge slice of the limelight in the half-time warm-up.
He was clearly bursting to get out on to the pitch and brought huge whoops of delight from the boisterous crowd as a wayward practice shot smacked into the side of a pounds 25,000 space wagon placed on a rostrum by the match sponsors.
There was slight damage but officials stressed they were well insured. And, anyway, Shearer could have coughed up with small change from his reported pounds 40,000-a-week wages.
Earlier Shearer and his new team-mates had been welcomed into this huge concrete bowl decorated in the red and white colours of Singapore's national flag.
We even witnessed a throwback to the pop days of the 1960s with teenage Singaporean girls screaming and almost fainting at the sight of their heroes.
And even a female tannoy announcer struggled to control herself when she put far too many oohs and aahs into David Gin-oo-ola's name.
The Singapore fanatics had never seen anything quite like this as the girl added: "Sit back for an experience of a lifetime."
It was hardly that, although it's fair to say the game was of a higher standard than these usual kind of friendlies, with Newcastle showing many touches of class.
The man responsible for that was French maestro Ginola, who treated the massed ranks to all his dribbling skills and even found time to steal the man-of-the-match award with two superb goals.
His first came from the penalty spot in the 25th minute after Faustino Asprilla was chopped down in the box by Borhan Abu Samah.
Ginola glided to the spot, did a shimmy and foxed keeper David Lee with a shot into the opposite corner.
Ginola, who gave his pounds 500 cheque to a local charity, crowned his display in the 73rd minute with a 30-yarder which arrowed spectacularly into the bottom corner.
Paul Kitson, obviously feeling the heat more than anyone since Shearer's arrival, grabbed two himself with a 72nd-minute gift and then a neat round off to a Ginola-Peter Beardsley inspired move.
Les Ferdinand started the ball rolling with a bullet header from John Beresford's cross. But nothing could steal the limelight from Ginola.
He had shaken off the effects of a dead leg to breathe life into the game and although the 90-degree heat had sapped his strength he was still in happy mood.
Ginola, sipping a couple of bottles of sparkling water, said: "I have a better feeling this season for the championship. I am really enjoying myself. I am scoring goals and we are playing well. What more could I ask?"
Not much, David. But I know the fans can't wait to welcome Shearer - and then for you and the boys to really give soccer-mad Tyneside the success it craves.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 2, 1996|
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