ALAN Shearer last night paid tribute to the man who 'discovered' him.
Talent scout Jack Hixon from Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, died in hospital yesterday morning at the age of 88. He claimed to have found 47 talented Geordie schoolboys who have gone on to play top-flight football, including the United striking legend.
"It’s a very sad day," said Mr Shearer, who went on to captain Newcastle, scoring a record 206 goals for the Magpies.
"Jack was a lovely man, very hard working and totally dedicated. We were very close and he will be sadly missed."
Jack became a scout for Burnley by accident after serving in the Navy during the Second World War with their England winger Billy Elliott.
He was responsible for unearthing the £5m-rated Leeds United striker Michael Bridges and Burnley’s England winger Ralph Coates.
But it will be his discovery of the teenage Shearer for which he will be best remembered.
Jack first spotted him as a 13-year-old striker turning defences inside out on Benfield Park. A year later the teenager was being packed off to Southampton on apprenticeship terms. The pair kept in touch and Shearer even made a secret visit to Jack’s hospital bedside before the Euro 2000 championships after he fell ill with a serious kidney complaint.
Jack previously said of Shearer: "He has achieved so much and I burst with pride about him. Often I have been in the right place at the right time. The Lord has smiled down on me."
Jack also talent-spotted Stan Ternent from Gateshead. The former Sunderland coach and Burnley manager remained good friends with Jack.
Stan said: "He spotted a lot of talent; so many players from all over the place. He brought hundreds and hundreds of players into the game and a lot of them became internationals.
"We won’t see the likes of him again.He spotted me in the North East. I was a friend of his from the age of 13.
"I got my chance in the game and it was all down to Jack.
"He could spot a player and he was a genuinely nice person."
Jack had a unique record in the North East, as he was the only scout who helped boost the careers of key men at all three clubs in the region.
It was Jack who signed former Newcastle United youth development officer John Murray for Burnley. He also took former Sunderland coach Mick Buxton into league football at Burnley and signed Middlesbrough’s youth development officer, George Shipley, for Southampton.
Despite his talents as a scout, Jack’s full-time job was with British Rail. His life story became the subject of a book and documentary in 2001 by his lifelong friend Victor Jupp, a social researcher at Northumbria University.
Jack became a great-granddad in May 2006. Baby Jack is the son of Jack and Eline Hixon’s granddaughter and grandson-in-law, Lynne and Tiernan Hawley.
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