Although eventually and justifiably regarded as one of the World’s foremost strikers, Gary made a rather stumbling start to his first-team career with Leicester City, who initially struggled to harness the youngster’s remarkable pace to a coherent tactical role.
Indeed, Gary, was quite often played wide in his early days, until his alert goal-poaching habit began truly to blossom during 1981/82. There were still distinct gaps in his footballing reportoire wehn Leicester City fought their way back to Division One in 1983, but Gary gradually refined his ball-holding and control skills while leading the Filbert Street scoring list for four seasons running on quick witted predatory instinct, and became an inevitable England choice up front despite Leicester City’s lowly status in the top flight.
Equally inevitable, perhaps, was a move, and it was to reigning champions Everton that Gary went in return for an £800.000 cheque. Thirty league goals, ten more in Cup competitions (including one at Wembley in the FA Cup Final), and both version of the Footballer of the Year award made up Gary’s individual tally from his Goodison season, when he also emerged as an unexpectedly fine header of the ball though the Toffees finished as runners-up to Liverpool in both major domestic competitions.
Gary’s value escalated dramatically again, however, following his summer exploits at the 1986 World Cup, when his hat-trick against Poland made him a national hero and his total of six goals won him the competitions Golden Boot. award as top scorer.
Terry Venables’ Barcelona laid out som £2.750.000 in pesetas for Gary’s new globally famous talent, with Leicester City benefiting from a negotiated percentage of Everton’s profit (amounting £250.000), and the quicksilver striker maintained striker maintained his fine scoring record at both club and international level, though neither of his partnerships with Mark Hughes and Steve Archibald could quite prompt Barcelona higher than second place in the Spanish League in 1987.
Gary picked up his first ever winner’s medal from the 1988 Spanish Cup Final, if you count out the 2-0 win v. Man Utd in the 1985 Charity Shield, but took the first real knock to his modesty handled prestige when, suffering from the onset of hepatitis, he shared in England’s poor European Championships displays that summer.
Perhaps ironically, his rehabilitation at Barcelona under Johan Cruyff’s management entailed a return to virtually orthodox wing play, with his cross from the right providing the opening goal in the Catalan’s European Cup Winners Cup victory of 1989.
A comeback to characteristic scoring form for England, and a second signing for Terry Venables, then heralded Gary’s return to the Football League and, immiediatly, to the head of the First Division scorers list.
The 1990 World Cup saw him claim another 4 goals as England’s campaign reached a semi-final penalty shoot-out before derailing, and Gary picked up the individual FIFA Fair Play award.
Gary Lineker earned an FA Cup winner’s medal with Spurs in 1991, despite missing a penalty against Nottingham Forest, and eventually another missed spot-kick (against Brazil) proved crucial in leaving his international tally at 48, one short of Bobby Charlton’s England record, when Graham Taylor controversially closed his occasional captains representative carrer in 1992 on the 80 cap mark. Gary was named Footballer of the Year in 1992 by the FWA, by which time he had announced his intention to move to Japan to assist in the 1993 launch of the J-League.
His ambassadorial role there was superbly handled, but unfortunately a serie of foot injuries marred his on-field contributions to the Grampus Eight cause (including a spell under former Leicester City boss Gordon Milne), and Gary announced his retirement from the game in November 1994.
He has since football retirement worked in media and today probably better known to everyone for his hosting role at “Match of the Day”. He has been back at both Filbert Street and later King Power for several “hospitality” acts and never leaves any doubt about what club he still supports.
When Leicester City went into administration in 1992, he was part of a consortium bringing the club back on his feet, and during that fantastic 2015/16 season showing his support when Leicester City lifted the Premier League trophy.
A bet earlier in the season, made him host the first “Match of the day” for the 2016/17 season in his trousers. Gary Lineker will for always be one of the greatest among Leicester City players and him being a Leicester bread and born makes him very, very special among foxes fans.
- Full Name: Gary Winston Lineker
- Position: Forward
- Date of Birth: 30.08.1960
- Birthplace: Leicester
- Nation: England
- Caps / Goals: 80/48
- Major League Career:
- 1978-85, Leicester City (194/95)
- 1985-86, Everton (41/30)
- 1986-89, Barcelona (103/42)
- 1989-92, Tottenham Hotspur (105/67)
- 1992-94, Nagoya Grampus Eight (18/4)