Steven Taylor believes Newcastle United would be well clear of relegation trouble had Alan Shearer joined the club earlier in the season.
It has been a season of turmoil for The Magpies after Joe Kinnear was the surprise choice to replace fans' favourite Kevin Keegan who quit last September.
Although Kinnear did a fine job at the helm the club were forced to seek another replacement after health problems forced the ex-Wimbledon boss out of action.
Owner Mike Ashley drafted in hero Shearer in one last roll of the dice to save the club's top-flight status and it looks like the former England captain will pull the rabbit out of the hat.
While Shearer's record has flattered to deceive Newcastle won Monday's crucial battle with relegation rivals Middlesbrough, a result that looks set to guide them away from the relegation trapdoor.
Taylor, who scored Newcastle's leveller in the game, believes Shearer has instilled a high level of professionalism within the camp and that the club should have opted for him sooner.
When asked if Newcastle would be battling to save their Premier League status had Shearer arrived sooner, Taylor told Sky Sports News: "No chance, absolutely not. It's run properly now. It's a proper football club.
"He gives you that confidence and for me to get back in there I owe him one. So obviously I've got a lot of thanks for him.
"The fans absolutely love him and as players we respect him. He demands the best from us. He wants us to play with smiles on our faces and that's what we're doing at the moment.
"I think that's going to be probably the most important goal I'll ever score. I think the Middlesbrough game is probably the biggest game in my career and I know some of the other lads' careers as well. It was such a massive game. To win that was a relief more than anything."
Meanwhile, Taylor has offered his support to under-fire striker Michael Owen, who has been surprisingly tipped in some quarters to retire from the game when his contract expires this summer.
Although those reports have been swiftly denied Owen's form has been well below his high standards, although Taylor says the striker has his team-mates' full backing and that his efforts are not going unnoticed.
"He's club captain. He's goals machine more than anything," Taylor continued. "His record speaks for itself. When he plays you have confidence that he'll find the back of the net.
"You give him the supply and service and I don't think he's really had that. I think his criticism is from people who don't watch the games. They see Michael Owen's name is not on the goal sheet.
"They've got to watch the game and see what he does for the team. Very rarely does he give the ball away. You put him in front of the goal with the ball he will score."