SOCCER favourite Alan Shearer last night told of his pride as he landed a prestigious and centuries-old ceremonial role.
The former Newcastle United goal scoring hero has been made a Deputy Lieutenant of Northumberland, after the appointment was approved by the Queen.
He was nominated for the role by the Duchess of Northumberland, who in May became the first-ever female Lord Lieutenant of England’s most northerly county.
Lord Lieutenants date back to the reign of King Henry VIII and are the official representatives of the Crown in English ceremonial counties.
Deputy Lieutenants have been appointed for hundreds of years to be stand-ins for the Lord Lieutenants in their absence, and Shearer is now one of 22 people performing the role in Northumberland.
He could be asked to deputise for the Duchess at officials engagements which she is unable to keep, such as Royal visits and civic ceremonies, and his local knowledge and contacts will be used for matters such as awards and invitations to Royal garden parties.
Shearer, who lives in Darras Hall, Northumberland, was awarded the OBE for services to football in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2001.
He recently received his commission as Deputy Lieutenant by centuries-old custom, when official confirmation was given that the Queen did not ‘disapprove of the appointment’.
Deputy lieutenants must live within the county or within seven miles of its boundary, and normally retain the role until they retire at 75. Shearer follows in the footsteps of Ashington-born World Cup winner Jack Charlton, who is due to retire as Deputy Lieutenant in May next year.
Yesterday he said: “It is a real honour to be chosen for this position. I am delighted to be able to serve the county in this capacity and I look forward to assisting the Duchess in her official duties.”
The Gosforth-born star is both Newcastle United and the Premier League’s record goal scorer, and returned to the North East in 1996 to play for his boyhood heroes for 10 years.
His testimonial raised £1.64m, benefiting 14 charities and worthy causes, including £400,000 for the NSPCC and £320,000 for completion of the Alan Shearer Centre, a respite care facility in Newcastle for disabled children.
He is an ambassador for the NSPCC and last year raised more than £300,000 for Sport Relief in a bike ride with fellow Match of the Day presenter Adrian Chiles.
The Duchess said: “I would find it difficult to think of anyone else in the region who is so symbolic of all that is great in the North East. Alan is respected and revered in the region and I am certain that he will be an excellent Deputy Lieutenant.”
The Duchess said: “Northumberland has a lot of serving soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and when I thought to myself who they would be most thrilled to meet, it was not the Duchess of Northumberland who sprang to mind but a real North East hero like Alan Shearer.
“You could not find a more iconic person than Alan, not just for what he has done in football but for all the extra work he tirelessly does for charity and communities. I am delighted he has accepted the role of Deputy Lieutenant because he is a real role model. I have promised him he is not going to have to do too much, but even if it is just one occasion a year he is the perfect choice.’’