Man at His Best

What I've Learned: Gary Lineker

​Wit and wisdom from the former England star and Match Of The Day stalwart​.

BY Sam Park | Sep 20, 2016 | Fitness & Health

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Playing football and presenting TV are totally different things, but there are similarities: it's exciting, it can go well, it can go badly… the difference is when presenting goes badly it doesn't really affect anyone's life, whereas when you have a bad day on the pitch it affects people's moods for a whole week.

On TV if you fluff your lines nobody gives a toss. But if you fluff a penalty in the World Cup, well—we all know how much that matters.

I loved playing, but there comes a point in your life when you're sick of being treated like a schoolboy. That's what being a footballer is really: you train at this time, you finish at that time, then you do that, then you go home, then you're not allowed out, then you do this… there comes a point in your career—about thirty, thirty-one—when you get a bit sick of being screamed at.

It's remarkable what adrenaline can do.

The one thing that's irreplaceable is the feeling of scoring an important goal, or winning a big game—that you can't replace in any way in real life, that explosion of different emotions.

If I hadn't have been good enough at football, I'd have been a sports journalist—which is what I do now anyway. Or a cricketer. I might have been a cricketer.

Would I like to play in today's game? Well I'd have to be 30 years younger, so yeah in some ways!

There's one thing I'm envious about, and it's not the money. It's the pitches. I played in a time of shit surfaces—apart from August and half of September, it'd get really muddy, then boggy, then frozen. Today the surfaces are pretty pure all year round. It's a massive advantage.

The best advice I've ever been given? Whatever you do in life, give it absolutely everything. I've always done that.

I've said my best ever partner on the pitch was Peter Beardsley, and I meant it. I played with lots of terrific strikers, but Peter was different. He was our first true No 10.

Some people think I'm smug, but I'm definitely not smug. I'm totally aware of how fortunate I am. Apart from that, I don't know what people think about me.

Outside football, my biggest passions are food, travel and theatre. It's something I came to relatively late in life when I was with Danielle [Bux, the actress]. I like serious plays: good writing, great acting. I'm a fan of Simon Stephens, but most of his are quite dark, you know? I don't know what goes on in that crazy mind, but you can tell he's a genius.

Acting? Me?! Well I've done the Walkers commercials—does that count?

The only other player I was in awe of us was Maradona. All the other players were the same.

That said, I still haven't met Messi. For me he's the greatest of all time. I've never seen anyone pass better, I've never seen anyone dribble better, and his goal scoring ratio is ludicrous. So when you add all those things together, and all the trophies he's won, you have to give it to him.

I'm only a year into a new five-year contract with Match Of The Day, so I'll be doing that for a while yet. I'm also doing BT's Champions League show, which I love. I've switched off doing other things—the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games or anything like that. I've just been focusing on the football because that's where I feel most comfortable. It's what's what I enjoy.

 

From: Esquire UK


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