Gary Lineker

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Gary Lineker
Gary Linekar.jpg
Lineker in 2009
Personal information
Full name Gary Winston Lineker
Date of birth (1960-11-30) 30 November 1960 (age 58)
Place of birth Leicester, England
Height 5 ft 9 12 in (177 cm)
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1976–1978 Leicester City
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1978–1985 Leicester City 194 (95)
1985–1986 Everton 41 (30)
1986–1989 Barcelona 103 (42)
1989–1992 Tottenham Hotspur 105 (67)
1992–1994 Nagoya Grampus Eight 18 (4)
Total 466 (238)
National team
1984 England B 1 (0)
1984–1992 England 80 (48)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Gary Winston Lineker, OBE (born 30 November 1960) is an English former footballer and current sports broadcaster. He holds England's record for goals in FIFA World Cup finals, with 10 scored. Lineker's media career began with the BBC, where he has presented the flagship programme Match of the Day since the late 1990s. He has also worked for Al Jazeera Sports, Eredivisie Live, NBC Sports Network and currently hosts BT Sport's coverage of the UEFA Champions League.

Lineker began his football career at Leicester City. Despite failing to score in his first ten games, he finished as the First Division's joint top goalscorer in 1984–85. He then moved to League Champions Everton where he developed as a clinical finisher, scoring 30 goals in 41 games. His first team honours came at Barcelona, where he won the Copa del Rey in 1988 and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1989. He returned to England in 1989, joining Tottenham Hotspur, and over three seasons he scored 67 goals in 105 games and won the FA Cup. Lineker's final club was Nagoya Grampus Eight and he retired in 1994 after two seasons at the Japanese side.

Lineker made his England debut in 1984, earning 80 caps and scoring forty-eight goals over an eight-year international career, finishing as England's third highest scorer behind Wayne Rooney & Bobby Charlton. His international goals-to-games ratio remains one of the best for the country and he is regarded as one of the all-time best English strikers. He was top scorer in the 1986 World Cup and received the Golden Boot, the only time an Englishman has achieved this feat. He is also the only player to have won the English golden boot with three different clubs (Leicester City, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur).

Even though he enjoyed a long career, Lineker was never cautioned by a referee for foul play and never received a yellow or red card.[1][2] As a result of this accomplishment he was honoured in 1990 with the FIFA Fair Play Award. In a senior career which spanned 16 years and 567 competitive games, Lineker scored a total of 282 goals at club level. Added to the 48 goals he scored in internationals, he managed a total of 330 goals. After his retirement from football he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame. He later led a consortium that invested in his old club Leicester, saving it from bankruptcy, and was appointed honorary vice-president.

Early life

Lineker was born in Leicester, the son of Margaret P. (Abbs) and Barry Lineker.[3] His middle name came from Winston Churchill, with whom he shares his birthday. He has one younger brother, Wayne who is two years his junior. Lineker's father was a greengrocer, as was his grandfather William and great-grandfather, George,[4] in Leicester and he grew up with his family in the city, playing football with his brother Wayne.[5]

Lineker first attended Caldecote Road School[6] (Caldecote Juniors), Braunstone in Leicester (east of the Meridian Centre) although he lived outside the borough. He went to the City of Leicester Boys' Grammar School (now City of Leicester College) on Downing Drive in Evington, inside the borough of Leicester due to his preference for football rather than rugby, which was the main sport of most schools near his home. As a result he lived with his grandmother, who lived in the city, while attending school. Lineker was equally talented at both football and cricket. From the ages of 11 to 16 he captained the Leicestershire Schools cricket team, and had felt that he had a higher chance of succeeding at it rather than football.[7] He later stated on They Think It's All Over that as a teenager he idolised former England captain David Gower, who was playing for Leicestershire at the time.[8]

Lineker left school with four O Levels. One of his teachers wrote on his report card that he "concentrates too much on football" and that he would "never make a living at that". He then joined the youth academy at Leicester City in 1976.[7]

Club career

Leicester City

Lineker began his career at his home town club Leicester City after leaving school. Lineker began scoring prolifically in the early 1980s, helping Leicester win promotion to the First Division in 1980 and again in 1983. Lineker's career at Leicester started slowly and was mostly kept to odd appearances. However he began to break into being a regular starter in 1981 and forging a prolific strike-force alongside Alan Smith, Lineker hit 19 goals in all competitions in the 1981–82 season. The following season he was the English Second Division's top scorer as he helped Leicester win promotion to the top flight. Despite the step up, his scoring exploits continued and he was runner-up only to Ian Rush in the goalscoring charts the following season and then went one better as he was the First Division's joint top goalscorer in 1984–85 with 24 goals. By this stage, however, he was attracting the attention of bigger clubs, and a move from Filbert Street was looking certain.


In the 1985 close season, Lineker was sold to defending league champions Everton for £800,000, and scored 40 goals in 57 games for his new team. He was again the First Division's leading goal scorer, this time with 30 goals, and helped Everton finish second in the league. While he was at Everton, they reached the FA Cup final for the third year in a row but they lost 3–1 to Liverpool, despite Lineker giving them an early lead when he outpaced Alan Hansen to score. Liverpool had also pipped Everton to the title by just two points. "I was only on Merseyside a short time, nine or 10 months in total really, but it was still a happy time personally, while professionally it was one of the most successful periods of my career," he says. "I still have an affinity towards Everton."

Lineker scored three hat-tricks for Everton; at home to Birmingham City in a 4–1 league win on 31 August 1985, at home to Manchester City in a 4–0 home win on 11 February 1986, and then in the penultimate league game of the season on 3 May 1986, when they kept their title hopes alive with a 6–1 home win over Southampton. On his final league appearance, he scored twice in a 3–1 home win over a West Ham side whose title hopes had just disappeared. However, he and his colleagues were denied title glory as Liverpool also won their final league game of the season at Chelsea.[9] Lineker has consistently stated since retiring from football that this Everton team was the best club side he ever played in.


After winning the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, Lineker was signed by Barcelona for £2,800,000. Barcelona were being managed by former Queens Park Rangers manager Terry Venables, who had also brought in Manchester United and Wales striker Mark Hughes.

His Golden Boot-winning performance at the finals led to much anticipation of success at the Camp Nou, and he did not disappoint, scoring 21 goals in 41 games during his first season, including a hat-trick in a 3–2 win over arch rivals Real Madrid.[10] Barcelona went on to win the Copa del Rey in 1988 and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1989. Lineker played in Barcelona's home and away defeats to Dundee United. Barcelona manager Johan Cruyff decided to play Lineker on the right of the midfield and he eventually lost his place in the first team.

Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson attempted to sign Lineker to partner his ex-Barcelona team-mate Mark Hughes in attack, but Lineker signed with Tottenham Hotspur in July 1989. Over three seasons, he scored 67 goals in 105 league games and won the FA Cup while playing for the club.

He finished as top scorer in the First Division in the 1989–90 season, scoring 24 goals as Spurs finished third.

He finally collected an English piece of silverware when he won the 1991 FA Cup Final with Spurs, who beat Nottingham Forest 2–1. This was despite Lineker having a goal controversially disallowed for offside and also having a penalty saved by goalkeeper Mark Crossley.[11] Lineker had contributed to Tottenham's run to the final. In the semi-final he scored twice in a 3–1 win over North London rivals Arsenal.[12]

He was the top division's second-highest goalscorer in 1991–92 with 28 goals from 35 games, behind Ian Wright, who scored 29 times in 42 games. Despite Lineker's personal performance, Tottenham finished this final pre-Premier League season in 15th place.

Nagoya Grampus Eight

Lineker ended his career with an injury-plagued spell in Japan's J. League with Nagoya Grampus Eight, where he made 23 appearances over two seasons, scoring nine times, before announcing his retirement in the autumn of 1994.

He officially joined Nagoya Grampus Eight after playing his final game for Spurs on 2 May 1992, when he scored the consolation goal in a 3–1 defeat by Manchester United on the last day of the season. He had accepted their offer of a two-year contract on 20 November 1991.[13] Shortly before accepting the offer from Nagoya Grampus Eight, Tottenham had rejected an offer from ambitious Second Division club Blackburn Rovers, who had recently been taken over by steel baron Jack Walker.[14]

International career

Lineker was capped once by the England B national team, playing in a 2–0 home win over New Zealand on 13 November 1984.[15] He first played for the England team proper against Scotland in 1984. He played five games in the 1986 World Cup and was top scorer of the tournament with six goals, winning the Golden Boot, making him to date the only English player to have done so. He scored the second quickest hat-trick ever at a FIFA World Cup tournament against Poland, the second English player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup, and scored two goals against Paraguay in the second round. He played most of the tournament wearing a lightweight cast on his forearm. He scored for England in the World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, but the game ended in defeat as Diego Maradona scored twice for the opposition (the first goal being the "Hand of God" handball).

In 1988, Lineker played in Euro 88, but failed to score as England lost all three Group games. It was later established that he had been suffering from hepatitis.[16][17]

In the 1990 World Cup, he scored four goals to help England reach the semi-finals after a string of draws and narrow victories. He was unwell during the tournament, and accidentally defecated during the opening group game against the Republic of Ireland.[18] After Andreas Brehme sent England 1–0 down in the semi-final, Lineker received a passed from Paul Parker and escaped two German defenders on his way to scoring the equaliser, but the West Germans triumphed in the penalty shoot-out and went on to win the trophy. Later he said: "Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."[19]

He retired from international football with eighty caps and forty-eight goals, one fewer goal than Sir Bobby Charlton's England record (which Charlton accrued over 106 caps). In what proved to be his last England match, against Sweden at Euro 92, he was substituted by England coach Graham Taylor in favour of Arsenal striker Alan Smith, ultimately denying him the chance to equal—or even better—Charlton's record.[20] He had earlier missed a penalty that would have brought him level, in a pre-tournament friendly against Brazil.[21] He was visibly upset at the decision, not looking at Taylor as he took the bench.

He scored four goals in an England match on two occasions and is one of very few players never to have been given a yellow card or a red card in any type of game.[22]

Media career

Following retirement from professional football, he developed a career in the media, initially on BBC Radio 5 Live and as a football pundit before replacing Des Lynam as the BBC's anchorman for football coverage, including their flagship football television programme Match of the Day, and as a team captain on the sports game show They Think It's All Over from 1995 to 2003. Following the departure of Steve Rider from the BBC, Lineker, who is a keen recreational golfer with a handicap of four, became the new presenter for the BBC's golf coverage. Also, he presented Grandstand in the London studio while Desmond Lynam, the presenter at that time, was in Aintree when the Grand National was abandoned because of a bomb alert at the racecourse in 1997. Despite receiving some criticism from his peers,[5] he continued to front the BBC's coverage of the Masters and The Open, where he put his language skills to good use by giving an impromptu interview in Spanish with Argentinian Andrés Romero.[23]

He also appeared in the 1991 play An Evening with Gary Lineker by Arthur Smith and Chris England, which was adapted for television in 1994.

He presented a six-part TV Series for the BBC in 1998 (directed by Lloyd Stanton) called Golden Boots,[24] with other football celebrities. It was an extensive history of the World Cup focusing on the 'Golden Boots' (top scorers).

In 2001, Lineker was set up by the TV show Brass Eye (episode "Paedogeddon").[25]

In 2002, Lineker had a cameo appearance in the film Bend It Like Beckham[26]

In 2005, Lineker was sued for defamation by Australian footballer Harry Kewell over comments Lineker had made writing in his column in The Sunday Telegraph about Kewell's transfer from Leeds United to Liverpool. However the jury was unable to reach a verdict. It transpired in the case that the article had actually been ghost-written by a journalist at the Sunday Telegraph following a telephone interview with Lineker.[27]

In 2006, Lineker took on an acting role as the voice of Underground Ernie on the BBC's children's channel, CBeebies.[28]

In December 2008, Lineker appeared on the ITV1 television programme Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Christmas Special where he and English rugby union player Austin Healey won £50,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation.

In 2009, Lineker and his wife Danielle hosted a series of the BBC's Northern Exposure, following on from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen from the previous year in visiting and showcasing locations throughout Northern Ireland.[29]

In May 2010, Lineker resigned from his role as columnist for The Mail on Sunday in protest over the sting operation against Lord Triesman that jeopardised England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup. Triesman resigned as chairman of the bid and the FA on 16 May 2010 after the publication of a secret recording of a conversation between the peer and a former ministerial aide, during which he claimed that Spain and Russia were planning to bribe referees at the World Cup in South Africa.[30] Lineker currently anchors the English language football coverage for Al Jazeera Sports, which is broadcast throughout much of the Middle East.

In 2013, Lineker began working for NBC Sports Network as part of their Premier League coverage. He contributes to the American version of Match of the Day.[31]

On 9 June 2015, Lineker was unveiled as the lead presenter of BT Sport's UEFA Champions League coverage.

Walkers advertisements

His popularity has enabled him to appear in a series of light-hearted commercials for Walkers since 1995. Walkers, a Leicester-based British producer of snack foods, temporarily named their salt and vinegar crisps after Lineker in the late 1990s—they were labelled 'Salt-n-Lineker'.[32]

Goalhanger Films

In May 2014, Lineker established his own production company Goalhanger Films Ltd. with former ITV Controller Tony Pastor.[33] During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Lineker presented several short videos produced by Goalhanger Films on YouTube with the title Blahzil.

In May 2015, the company produced a 60-minute long documentary presented by Lineker titled Gary Lineker on the Road to FA Cup Glory for the BBC.[34]

Personal life

Lineker with ex wife Danielle in 2010.

Lineker was made a freeman of the City of Leicester in 1995 and he is often referred to as "Leicester's favourite son".[35][36]

Lineker married Michelle Cockayne in 1986, but they divorced in August 2006. They announced their split in April 2006 and stated that the situation was amicable.[37] Michelle filed for divorce in May 2006 on the grounds of Gary’s 'unreasonable behaviour', with court documents claiming that Lineker’s actions in their marriage had caused her ‘stress and anxiety’. Lineker and Michelle had four sons, George, Harry, Tobias and Angus together. In the early 1990s his oldest son George survived, as a baby, a rare form of leukaemia.[5] Lineker now supports children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent and has since appeared in adverts encouraging people to give blood as a result. Lineker has been actively involved with other cancer charities such as Leukaemia Busters, where between 1994 and 2005 Gary and Michelle were the charity's patrons.[38][39] He has also been involved with Fight for Life and Cancer Research UK.[40][41]

In October 2002, Lineker backed a £5 million bid to rescue his former club Leicester City which recently had gone into administration, describing his involvement as charity rather than an ego trip.[42] He said that he would invest a six-figure sum and other members of his consortium would invest a similar amount.[43] Lineker met the fans' group to persuade them to try and raise money to rescue his former club. The club was saved from liquidation. Lineker is now honorary vice-president of Leicester City.

Lineker married Danielle Bux on 2 September 2009, in Ravello, Italy. The ceremony was attended by friends and family. They went on to win £30,000 for charity on ITV's gameshow Mr. and Mrs.[44] On 13 January 2016, Lineker and Bux divorced after six years of marriage.[45]

In 2013 he participated in the genealogical programme Who Do You Think You Are? during which he discovered an ancestor who was a poacher, and another who was a legal clerk.[46]

Career statistics


Season Club League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1978–79 Leicester City Second Division 7 1 7 1
1979–80 19 3 1 0 20 3
1980–81 First Division 9 2 1 1 10 3
1981–82 Second Division 39 17 5 2 3 0 47 19
1982–83 40 26 1 0 2 0 43 26
1983–84 First Division 39 22 1 0 1 0 41 22
1984–85 41 24 4 3 3 2 48 29
1985–86 Everton First Division 41 30 6 5 5 3 52 38
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1986–87 Barcelona La Liga 41 20 1 1 8 0 50 21
1987–88 36 16 5 2 8 2 49 20
1988–89 26 6 4 1 8 4 38 11
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1989–90 Tottenham Hotspur First Division 38 24 1 0 6 2 45 26
1990–91 32 15 6 3 5 1 43 19
1991–92 35 28 2 0 5 5 8 2 50 35
Japan League Emperor's Cup J. League Cup Asia Total
1993 Nagoya Grampus Eight J. League 7 1 0 0 5 4 12 5
1994 11 3 0 0 1 0 12 3
Country England 340 192 28 14 30 13 8 2 406 221
Spain 103 42 10 4 24 6 137 52
Japan 18 4 0 0 6 4 24 8
Total 461 238 38 18 36 17 32 8 567 281


England national team
Year Apps Goals
1984 1 0
1985 9 6
1986 10 8
1987 7 9
1988 10 3
1989 9 3
1990 15 8
1991 11 9
1992 8 2
Total 80 48

International goals


Scores and results list England's goal tally first.
# Date Venue Opponent Result Competition Scored
1 26 March 1985 Wembley Stadium  Republic of Ireland 2–1 Friendly 1
2, 3 16 June 1985 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum  United States 5–0 Friendly 2
4, 5, 6 16 October 1985 Wembley Stadium  Turkey 5–0 1986 World Cup qualifier 3
7, 8, 9 11 June 1986 Estadio Tecnológico, Monterrey  Poland 3–0 1986 World Cup 3
10, 11 18 June 1986 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City  Paraguay 3–0 1986 World Cup 2
12 22 June 1986 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City  Argentina 1–2 1986 World Cup 1
13, 14 15 October 1986 Wembley Stadium  Northern Ireland 3–0 Euro 1988 qualifier 2
15, 16, 17, 18 18 February 1987 Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid  Spain 4–2 Friendly 4
19 19 May 1987 Wembley Stadium  Brazil 1–1 Friendly (Rous Cup) 1
20 9 September 1987 Rheinstadion, Düsseldorf  West Germany 1–3 Friendly 1
21, 22, 23 14 October 1987 Wembley Stadium  Turkey 8–0 Euro 1988 qualifier 3
24 24 May 1988 Wembley Stadium  Colombia 1–1 Friendly (Rous Cup) 1
25 23 March 1988 Wembley Stadium  Netherlands 2–2 Friendly 1
26 28 May 1988 Stade Olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne   Switzerland 1–0 Friendly 1
27 26 April 1989 Wembley Stadium  Albania 5–0 1990 World Cup qualifier 1
28 3 June 1989 Wembley Stadium  Poland 3–0 1990 World Cup qualifier 1
29 7 July 1989 Parken Stadium, Copenhagen  Denmark 1–1 Friendly 1
30 28 March 1990 Wembley Stadium  Brazil 1–0 Friendly 1
31 15 May 1990 Wembley Stadium  Denmark 1–0 Friendly 1
32 11 June 1990 Stadio Sant'Elia, Cagliari  Republic of Ireland 1–1 1990 World Cup 1
33, 34 1 July 1990 Stadio San Paolo, Naples  Cameroon 3–2 1990 World Cup 2
35 4 July 1990 Stadio delle Alpi, Turin  West Germany 1 – 1p 1990 World Cup 1
36 22 September 1990 Wembley Stadium  Hungary 1–0 Friendly 1
37 17 October 1990 Wembley Stadium  Poland 2–0 Euro 1992 qualifier 1
38, 39 6 February 1991 Wembley Stadium  Cameroon 2–0 Friendly 2
40 26 July 1991 Wembley Stadium  Argentina 2–2 Friendly (England Challenge Cup) 1
41 3 June 1991 Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland  New Zealand 1–0 Friendly 1
42, 43, 44, 45 12 June 1991 Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur  Malaysia 4–2 Friendly 4
46 13 November 1991 Stadion Miejski, Poznań  Poland 1–1 Euro 1992 qualifier 1
47 19 February 1992 Wembley Stadium  France 2–0 Friendly 1
48 29 April 1992 Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow  CIS 2–2 Friendly 1



Leicester City
Tottenham Hotspur





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Further reading

  • Malam, Colin (1993). Gary Lineker: Strikingly Different. London: Stanley Paul. ISBN 0-09-175424-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links