Capped by England at semi-pro level while playing as a left-sided striker for Alvechurch’s successful Southern League side, Alan became the fina signing of the Jock Wallace era at City, and a bargain inheritance for Gordon Milne, who immediately parred the tall, elegant attacker with Gary Lineker.
Though the latter initially hogged the headlines for his scoring exploits as City returned to the First Division and set about their battle for consolidation. Alan soon proved an unselfish foil, crating numerous chances with his excellent ball control and vision, and snapping up a fair quotient himself.
Displaying a rare combination of stylishness and ready willingness to chase and harry, and posing an effective striking threat both in the air and on the ground. Alan also stood out for that even rarer commodity of sportsmanship for while neither his bravery nor commitment could be questioned, his record of a single booking over five seasons was positively remarkable in a context of so much professional niggling.Embed from Getty Images
On Lineker’s departure, Alan determinedly shouldered the responsibility as City’s primary goalgetter, and after he finally shrugged off his reputation as a sluggish seasonal starter in 1986/87, there was much inevitability in the upsurge of million pound transfer rumours as there was credit in the player’s modesty expressed desire to honour his Leicester contract, indeed, wehn his £800.000 move to Highbury was finally negotiated, he agreed to an instant loan back to City, to aid their eventually futile flight to stay in the top rank.
Alan’s initial season with Arsenal brought mixed fortunes under intense scrutiny, though he scored one of their consolation goals in the Littlewoods Cup Final of 1988 and finished as the club’s top scorer, but it was his goal burst at the start of 1988/89 which elevated him into the England squad. He won the first cap as a sub in Saudi Arabia, heralding a brief international renewal of his old Filbert Street partnership with Lineker; then scored one and made one of the goals at Anfield which brought Arsenal the 1988/89 champiohnship by the narrowest possible of margins.Embed from Getty Images
Alan’s 23 First Division strikes also earned him the Golden Boot for 1989. He similarly led the Highbury scoring list in the 1991 championship win; with England again was noted as the innocent party in the cotroversy surrounding Lineker’s final international substitution; shared in Arsenal’s 1993 FA Cup win; and then voleyed the winning goal in he 1994 European Cup Winners Cup Final against Parma.
A knee injury wrecked his 1994/95 campaign, and medical advise sadly led to his retirement, at the age of only 32, in July 1995, at a point where he had amassed an aggregate tally of 199 League and Cup goals.