Gary Lineker doesn't believe he was anything like Wayne Rooney or Michael Owen

Mirror Online 3 weeks ago

In his won words, Gary Lineker explains what he's learnt so far in life...

As a kid I had goofy teeth, big ears and was small.

And just sport obsessed.

I’d play football all winter with my brother in the garden or at school, then cricket in the summer.

That was my childhood.

Sport teaches you so much about being part of a team, fitness, good health, winning, losing, dealing with stuff, competitiveness.

I think it’s great training for life.

Plus it gets the energy out of you!

If I could give 16-year-old me advice, I’d say follow the path that you took.

Because I did alright!

A lot better than 16-year-old me thought I would.

Everything that happened to me surprised me.

Yes, I got signed to Leicester when I was 16, but I thought they’d find me out.

Then I got in the reserves and I thought, ‘I’m out of my depth.’

Maybe I’d say to my 16-year-old self to believe in myself more, but perhaps the fact I didn’t contributed to my success.

Normally in sport you do have to believe in yourself, so I was quite unusual.

Gary Lineker
 

I enjoy pressure.

What I struggle with is not being stimulated, so the bigger the TV show or football match, the more it stimulates and excites me and gets the adrenaline flowing.

It’s the mundane jobs or football matches I can’t get excited enough for.

Fame didn’t come to me too quickly.

I wasn’t a child footballing superstar like a Wayne Rooney or Michael Owen.

I didn’t play for England until I was nearly 25, so it was a gradual process.

Things changed dramatically after Mexico ’86, but I was at an age where I was mature enough to deal with it.

Then you become used to it.

People say I’m patient with people asking for selfies, but it takes as long to do one as it does to say no.

Plus they’ll go and tell their mates you’re a good guy – or not!

That infamous kick in the World Cup Semi Final in Turin, Italy July 1990
 

I’m not sure regret is the right word, but I could use it to describe losing the penalty shootout against Germany in 1990.

To be that close to winning the World Cup… It’s the only thing I look back
on and think ‘if only’.

Winning a World Cup, being part of immortality in terms of football, would have been amazing.

My mum gave me a great calmness.

I get my temperament from her, but both my parents taught me never to get too carried away by things if they’re going well, and never to get too down when they’re not.

I think you’re probably naturally that way or not, but we’re all influenced by how our parents treat us when we’re growing up.

Hopefully I influence my kids in the same way.

They’re very open with me, sometimes too open and I don’t necessarily wish to hear it – but I’m not judgemental and I say I won’t be if they ever have a problem, so to come to me.

Other people might think it’s a weakness, but I think it’s a strength.

Gary famously presented Match of the Day in his pants

Life gets tough for footballers after football.

I’m one of the lucky ones: I’ve found something I enjoy that I can do and it pays well.

If you finish in your early- to mid-30s the fame dissipates, the money stops, the self-esteem can go down.

The divorce rate for players between 35-40 is like 70%.

Then half the money goes and they might invest the rest in a business that fails.

Some turn to drink or drugs.

Footballers are earning so much now that if they’re half sensible they should manage it reasonably well, but that wasn’t the case in my time.

I don’t like big showbiz events.

I find them quite boring mostly.

I did do Glastonbury this year, though.

I lasted two days and it was interesting to see the magnitude of it.

I stayed in something called a Snoozebox with a freezing cold shower.

I couldn’t camp!

I didn’t go with my boys, no chance!

But we do go out together, and they love it because I pay!

Gary with father Barry, a former fruit and veg stall owner for 40 years

My son George got me into it in 2012 and I spend a lot of time on it now.

It’s a bit like my job, and writing an opening line – you try to make it amusing, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, sometimes you’re serious, sometimes political and get yourself embroiled in all sorts of nastiness.

But I love it more than I loathe it.

If you’d said to me 10 years ago I’d be some kind of semi-political voice I would have said I’m not that stupid.

But I have been!

Secret Behind My Snapshot

Gary Lineker and his boys meet Lionel Messi

This is a picture of me with my five boys: my four sons George, 28, Harry, 26, Tobias, 23, and Angus, 22, and Lionel Messi.

Obviously Messi is my favourite, but the others are OK.

He’s a hero to all of us, so actually getting to meet him at the Grosvenor Hotel last year before Barcelona played a game against Chelsea was an honour.

My friend Francisco Carrasco, who I used to play with at Barcelona, organised it for all of us to meet him and he was charming, a really lovely guy as you’d expect.

I was quite excited, to be perfectly honest, because I am a bit of a Messi fan.

I regard him as the greatest player the game has ever seen.

The book Behind Closed Doors: Life, Laughs and Football by Gary Lineker and Danny Baker is out now


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