DAN BURN did what most diehard Newcastle supporters would do on meeting Alan Shearer: Turn into a fawning fanboy too starstruck to speak.
Today he has the chance to inflict pain on his boyhood club with Brighton – and if he scores he will celebrate like his hero.
Burn, from Blyth, Northumberland, grew up worshipping Shearer and was a season-ticket holder at St James’ Park.
He finally had a chance to meet his idol a few years ago when at the house of ex-Toon star Rob Lee for the engagement party of Lee’s son Olly – a team-mate of Burn’s at Birmingham.
Endearingly honest Burn, 27, recalled: “I idolised him as a kid and just wanted to be him. I used to watch him every Saturday.
“Olly got engaged so I went to Rob Lee’s house for the engagement party. Shearer was there.
“I was just starstruck. I panicked massively and didn’t know what to say to him. My wife had to come over and save us!”
Burn was on Newcastle’s books until he was released at 11 and went on to play for local non-league sides New Hartley, Blyth Town and Blyth Spartans.
During his sixth-form days he would combine playing with stacking shelves in Asda until his professional career exploded with a move to League Two Darlington in 2009.
The centre-back, who began life as a goalkeeper, also turned out for his Blyth school and took on Newcastle’s current left-back in a Year 11 cup final.
The ex-Yeovil loanee recalled: “Paul Dummett went to Kenton High School and I remember playing him in a cup final.
“He scored a free-kick which was quite good. He was playing centre-midfield, I was at left-back and we were both captains.
“He was at Newcastle at the time so you knew he was a good player. He’s done very well at Newcastle, had a good career and is playing every week.
“He probably doesn’t even remember it. I mainly remember getting beat.”
Burn describes the decision by Toon coaches just before Christmas 2003 to let him go as “devastating”.
But that, on reflection, it was the correct call as “I was pretty crap, if I’m honest”.
That harsh term can no longer be used to describe this affable, 6ft7ins centre-back, however self-deprecatingly exaggerated.
Not after a career that has seen him earn his chance in the top flight having played in all four divisions and a number of non-league ones.
Where he has gone from making his own packed lunch and washing his own kit at 3am at Darlo to the five-star comforts of the Premier League.
Albion boss Graham Potter has been suitably impressed to play Burn in every single minute of Prem action this term – even deploying him at left wing-back against Burnley.
As a child, Burn would have fantasised about turning out in the black-and-white at St James’ Park many times over.
Ironically, he could have moved to the Magpies in 2011 when they made an 11th-hour bid to sign him from Darlo, while he was down at Fulham undergoing a medical.
But Burn had already committed to Mark Hughes and sensed that Newcastle’s offer was mainly not to lose face of having another local lad slip through the net.
And now if he manages to earn Brighton back-to-back wins on Tyneside after last season’s 1-0 win, the former giant defender has no doubt over how he will react.
Burn added: “When you grow up, you want to be a Newcastle player and wear No9, score all the goals.
“This is probably the next best thing.
“I still get to go there and if I’m picked, turn out in the Premier League against Newcastle at St James’ Park. That’s the stuff you dream of as a kid.
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“But I know I’ve got a job to do. We need points and need a result. I think Steve Bruce said it’s like a cup final.
“I played there a couple of years ago for Wigan. I had a header and I should have scored but I was already celebrating in my head, doing the Shearer celebration.
“I don’t score many, so if I play Saturday and score, I’ll celebrate, don’t worry.”