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About Alan:

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer is the Premier League's all-time top scorer with 260 goals and a leading TV pundit from the BBC's flagship football programme Match of the Day. Euro '96 Golden Boot winner Alan will be sharing his thoughts on all things football every week throughout the 2016/17 season.

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Alan Shearer: “The World Cup is a once in a lifetime opportunity – just give it your best”

Premier League legend gives his thoughts ahead of the tournament opener…

I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a slight sense of trepidation ahead of this World Cup, with everything that’s happening with Russia and the wider world…

But there’s no question I am looking forward to it for football reasons, and everyone who is out in Russia already said everything is great and the welcome has been warm.

The end of the Premier League season petered out a bit, the FA Cup final was easily forgettable, and it seems a while since the Champions League final, so it will be great to see some competitive football again.  

Player or pundit?

This will be my fourth World Cup as a pundit for the BBC, and I am really looking forward to it.

There’s no comparison between playing in a World Cup and covering it for TV.  

Yes there will be a few butterflies as we’re on live and we’ll know how many people will be watching back home and we don’t just turn up, watch the match and start talking.

We do our homework, look at every team, every player, be as prepared as we can be.

As a player however, you just turn up, and you have everything, and I mean everything, done for you!  

Every single aspect of the trip is taken care of, from socks to visas!  And that means that as an England player, all you have to do is go out and perform, although as we know with England that is easier said than done.

A cheeky 18 or two

I’m in Russia for the duration of the tournament, and for the first couple of weeks, with so many games taking place, we’re on air most days, so there won’t be much downtime.  

When it reaches the knockout stage we’ll get a day off here and there. It’s too far to pop home so I’m there for the five weeks, which does mean the golf clubs will be coming. Wherever I go the golf clubs come with me!  

The ITV team are close by us in Moscow, so I’m sure I’ll get Ian Wright, Lee Dixon, my BBC colleague Dan Walker out for a game!

Happy England

This does seem to be a happy group of England players, and I just hope that whatever happens in this tournament, they come away from it having enjoyed it, because for some of these players might never play in a World Cup again.

It can be a once in a lifetime opportunity, you’re playing for your country in a World Cup, it can’t get any better than that as a player, can it?  

If and when they get knocked out, I just want them to come away thinking we gave everything we could to the cause, we gave it our best, and I think the fans would be happy with that.

Brazilian redemption?

It looks a wide-open tournament, but I just favour Brazil.  After the embarrassment of that defeat to Germany four years ago I think they’ll be on a mission to put that right.

Neymar is back and scoring goals and he has plenty of quality around him.  I can’t wait for it to begin!