ALAN Shearer has led the tributes to football scout Jack Hixon who passed away today at the age of 88.

Hixon gave Shearer his first big break in the game when he spotted the 13-year-old playing for Wallsend Boys Club and recommended him to Southampton for whom he scouted for 20 years.

Shearer, who remained close to Hixon throughout his illustrious career said today: "It's a very sad day. Jack was a lovely man, very hard working and totally dedicated. We were very close and he will be sadly missed."

"There will always be footballers to find," Hixon had once noted, and he spent over half a century unearthing North-East talent like Shearer and Michael Bridges who ended up playing for both Newcastle United and Sunderland.

Hixon spent brief spells working for Sunderland and later, on behalf of then-Magpies manager Bobby Robson.