Gary Linekar is one of England’s top goal scorers just behind Sir Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney.
He was instrumental in England’s World Cup in 1986 and despite losing in the quarter finals to Argentina came away with the Golden Boot.
Gary Linekar was born in Leicester, and he attended The City of Leicester Boys’ Grammar school. He played both football and cricket and showed aptitude for both. It was football that captivated him though and in 1976 he joined his home team Leicester City youth team.
The young Linekar showed his talent in front of goal and quickly progressed through the ranks. In 1981 his talents were recognised more widely and he was now a first team regular.
In 1985 Everton came calling and they paid £800,000 for the strikers’ services. His period at Everton was very successful and the young Linekar set the league alight with an Everton team who were flying high in Division 1.
He was to score 40 goals that season from 57 goals and took Everton to the verge of winning the league title. Despite scoring, he would also end up on the losing side of the 1986 FA cup final, going down 3-1 to Liverpool.
World Cup 1986
At the 1986 World Cup finals, Linekar was to set the tournament alight with and exciting England team that contained John Barnes, Bryan Robson, Peter Reid and Peter Beardsley.
He was to form a formidable partnership with Beardsley and despite a slow start to the tournament was able to help England progress with an excellent hat-trick against Poland.
A further two goals against Paraguay were to follow and with another win under their belt they would enter the quarter final high on confidence. (biographyonline)
Argentina, playing with the memorising Diego Maradona were heavily fancied to go on to win the tournament and the match lived up to the hype.
Firstly Diego Maradona was to score the infamous ‘hand of God’ goal, and then secondly he was to score one of the greatest goals of all time when he took the ball in the middle of the pitch and dribbled through several players to score.
Linekar was to score in the game and they did have several chances to get back into the match but it was not to be and England were eliminated. Linekar’s golden boot for being the top scorer of the competition was poor consolation.
Linekar would sign for Barcelona that year and he went on to score 21 goals from 41 games for the Spanish giants. His career in Spain was up and down though and after three years in Spain he would return to England.
In 1989, the now experience Linekar would return to England to play his trade with Tottenham Hotspur.
Spurs had assembled an exciting team full of talent which included Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne. He thrived at Spurs and would eventually win a trophy in the 1991 in the 1991 FA cup final against Nottingham Forest.
World Cup 1990
Lineker’s form with Spurs earned him another call up to the World Cup with England.
He was again instrumental with an England team that had their best performance since 1966 but again the team would be eliminated-this time in the semi- final against their old rivals Germany. The loss to Germany would have Linekar to later famously state;
“Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”
Gary Linekar would finish his international career with a goal scoring record of one in two.
One of the best scoring rates of any strikers with 80 caps and 48 goals. Just one short from equalling Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49.
Linekar finished his career in Japan, playing for Nagoya Grampus Eight. He accepted a two year deal playing aged 32 but he may have felt his age and recovery were catching up with him.
He would finish his career in Asia in 1994 aged 34.
Linekar achieved a rare feat of finishing his playing career without ever receiving a red or yellow card in any game.
Life After Football
Gary may have been one of the first footballers who planned for life outside of football while playing. As a player he was often seen speaking to the media outside of interviews and possibly soaking up information he would later use in television.
After retiring from playing football, Gary Linekar has become a high profile media personality. He is often seen covering the UEFA Champions League and is the host of BBC Match of the Day.
And lets not forget. Those commercials.
Growing up as a child Gary Linekar was not just a fantastic footballer but also a great role model.
His ability to find space and to score goals from inside the area would make him one of the most lethal forwards of his era.
I have no doubt that if he would have played in the Premier League era he would have been right up there with Alan Shearer.