Dimitar Berbatov: Who did I support as a kid? Newcastle...
The Bulgarian striker, who plundered 94 Premier League goals across spells with Manchester United, Tottenham and Fulham between 2006 and 2014, idolised the former England striker and supported whichever club Shearer was at.
Berbatov, the brilliant subject of our One-on-One in the October 2018 issue of FourFourTwo – out in shops and digitally on Wednesday – was only too happy to hold his arm aloft and chant his hero’s name during our sit-down with him last month.
“Shearer would smash in goals from all over the place,” he told FFT. “Smashing goals, smashing noses… he was unbelievable, and you know his goal celebration? That was iconic.
“At first I supported Blackburn because Shearer was there, then Newcastle. My parents got me a Newcastle No.9 shirt because they knew I loved Shearer so much. I would sleep in it.
“Later I lost it, but I went to see my mum recently and she had a shirt for me. I said, ‘What the f**k? That’s my Newcastle shirt!’ I was so happy to see it again.”
While Berbatov fell some 166 league goals short of Shearer’s all-time Premier League haul, the mercurial Bulgarian did match his idol’s feat of netting five goals in a match, against Blackburn in November 2010.
According to the 37-year-old, he should have gone one better in the 7-1 rout.
“I could have scored six – Paul Robinson saved it!” Berbatov said. “I was the first foreigner to hit five goals in one game, and to be in the company of Shearer and Andy Cole was unbelievable.
“I always say that coming from a smaller nation makes it more special and that’s the truth. It was a great achievement.”
Read the full (and magnificent) One-on-One with Dimitar Berbatov in the October 2018 issue of FourFourTwo, out in shops and on iPad/iPhone from Wednesday, September 5. Liverpool’s quest for glory is our cover story, featuring exclusive interviews with Andy Robertson and Rhian Brewster, while other features include remembering Manchester City when they were bobbins, England’s 22 tips for 2022, and meet Marlon Harewood: ride pimper.