This is why Alan Shearer made a surprise appearance at St James's Park

Alan Shearer was back at St James’s Park last night – to see close friend Rob Lee inducted into the Newcastle United Foundation’s Hall of Fame.

Lee’s contribution to the cause during a decade at Newcastle United was recognised at the Foundation’s annual dinner at the stadium, which was raising money for the charity’s work across the region.

The midfielder was part of the buccaneering Kevin Keegan side which came agonisingly close to winning the Premiership title in the 1995/96 season.

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“It’s a huge honour, especially being a Cockney boy,” Lee told event host Gabby Logan. "I’m delighted, and if you'd told me all those years ago when I joined in 1992 that this would happen, and I'd be inducted, I'd have snapped your hand off. I’m very honoured and very humble."

Lee joined from Charlton Athletic for a bargain £700,000 fee in 1992.

“I had 10 great years here,” said Lee. “The five under Keegan were the best of my career. It was the way I wanted to play as a kid and entertain people. I still get people now saying how good we were. We didn’t win anything. We didn’t win anything, but I think we won a lot of peoples’ hearts.”

Lee had been set to sign for Middlesbrough when Keegan got in touch.

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Keegan famously persuaded Lee – who had been reluctant to move to the North East – that Newcastle was closer to his native London – and the rest is history.

Rob Lee celebrates scoring a hat-trick in Antwerp.Rob Lee celebrates scoring a hat-trick in Antwerp.
Rob Lee celebrates scoring a hat-trick in Antwerp.

“If he hadn’t got me on the phone, I probably wouldn’t have come,” said Lee. “Keegan was my idol, and I was trying desperately not to speak to him!

“I visited Middlesbrough. I didn’t really want to go north, but, as soon as I spoke to him, it was a no-brainer. It was like that throughout my career, really. He got me to sign three contracts, I think, in the time I was here. I always happy to sign.”

Fairs Cup-winning defender David Craig was also inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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Meanwhile, Shearer, Newcastle’s all-time leading goalscorer, attended the dinner to support Lee, his close friend.

Shearer has been a vocal critic of United owner Mike Ashley in recent years.