Goal.com's Top 50 English Players: Gary Lineker (9)

Goal.com's top 50 countdown continues at nine with one of the greatest strikers that England has ever produced...
No.50 - John Terry

No.49 - Tony Currie
No.48 - Terry Butcher
No.47 - Gerry Hitchens
No.46 - Paul Ince
No.45 - George Camsell
No.44 - Wayne Rooney
No.43 - Jackie Milburn
No.42 - Roger Hunt
No.41 - Rio Ferdinand
No.40 - Wilf Mannion

No.39 - Frank Lampard
No.38 - John Barnes
No.37 - Nat Lofthouse
No.36 - Eddie Hapgood
No.35 - Chris Waddle
No.34 - David Platt
No.33 - Phil Neal
No.32 - Johnny Haynes
No.31 - Peter Beardsley
No.30 - Ray Clemence
No.29 - Ted Drake
No.28 - Michael Owen
No.27 - Raich Carter
No.26 - Colin Bell
No.25 – Frank Swift
No.24 - Paul Scholes
No.23 - Tony Adams
No.22 - Martin Peters
No.21 - Billy Wright
No.20 - Geoff Hurst
No.19 - Cliff Bastin

No.18 - Steven Gerrard

No.17 - Glenn Hoddle

No.16 - Bryan Robson
No.15 - Alan Shearer
No.14 - Paul Gascoigne
No.13 - David Beckham
No.12 - Dixie Dean
No.11 - Alan Ball
No.10 - Peter Shilton

Gary
LINEKER

Born

30/11/1960 - Leicester

England

80 caps, 48 goals

Clubs

Leicester City, Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur, Nagoya Grampus Eight

Lineker had a reputation for being one of football's mister nice guys during his playing days, but in front of goal he was clinical and lethal and made few friends among the goalkeeping fraternity.

The striker-turned media pundit made his reputation worldwide for his goalscoring exploits as he shone at both club and international level, in the process earning a reputation as a true gentleman.

While netting 244 goals for his clubs side in 466 games and 48 goals for England in 80 matches, Lineker did not receive a single card, whether it be red or yellow.

His record when playing for the Three Lions saw him score just one goal less than the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton and that is only because he fluffed a penalty in his last ever international at Wembley against Brazil.

That would have been a fitting tribute to one of the greatest strikers not just England, but the world has ever seen as he thrilled fans in England, Spain and Japan as well as the World Cup Finals.

After rising through the ranks at Leicester City, Lineker showed his incredible pace and ability in the area as his poacher's instinct began to be honed in the comfortable surroundings of Filbert Street.


With 95 goals arriving in 194 appearances, league champions Everton chose to splash £800,000 to land him in 1985 and he was to enjoy an incredible season on Merseyside that saw him net no less than 42 goals in total, and finish as the first division's best with 30.

That tally was not enough for the Toffees though as they finished as runners-up to Liverpool in both the title race and the FA Cup Final, when Lineker opened the scoring after turning away from Alan Hansen, to put his side ahead.

It was not his goals at Everton that earned him a move away from Goodison Park after just one season though, it was his performance at the 1986 World Cup Finals in Mexico when the world first took notice of him.

With just one point from games against Morocco and Portugal, Sir Bobby Robson's England had to beat Poland to go through and while the nerves were there, Lineker was clinical in front of goal as he netted a hat-trick.

Two more against Paraguay and a header in the infamous quarter final with Argentina took the forward's tally to six and was enough to earn him the tournament's Golden Boot.

Barcelona beckoned as the Catalans wanted the world's most famous goalscorer playing for them and he became a hero in his first season as he score three times to give his new side a 3-2 win over Real Madrid in Camp Nou.

Learning Spanish to a high level meant that Lineker was able to settle in
CAREER HIGHLIGHT

FA Cup glory with Spurs in 1991
the Catalan capital while Mark Hughes, with whom he had joined, struggled and was loaned to Bayern Munich after one season.

When Johan Cruyff took over at Barca and viewed his new striker as a right-winger, the Leicester-born star decided it was time to go home and in 1989 answered Terry Venables call to join him at Tottenham Hotspur.

Lineker may have won the Copa del Rey and European Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona, but he looks back fondly on his only triumph in England as he helped Spurs to FA Cup triumph in 1991, despite seeing a penalty saved in the final against Nottingham Forest.

The year before, the pacey striker had helped England to reach the World Cup semi-finals in Italy and netted four goals en route to make him only the eighth player to have netted ten goals in the finals overall.

His international career was to end in acrimony as the hapless Graham Taylor substituted Lineker during a defeat by Sweden at the 1992 European Championships. The striker's disenchantment was plain to see as he trudged reluctantly from the field.

Japan was his last port of call as he sought one last pay day, but his travels to the Far East were to end in pain as a troublesome toe injury forced Lineker to hang up his boots.


 Allied with his gentleman's persona, Lineker also had something of a reputation of being slightly aloof and his lone training regime of a lukewarm bath followed by only running, further separated him from team-mates.

His ability to send himself up though disproved some of that myth as he appeared on a sports quiz show in Britain where the gags were often aimed at him, before he eventually landed the plum job in British football broadcasting.

Carefully selecting his words each week, Lineker can be seen as the face of the BBC's Premier League highlights programme 'Match of the Day'.

With European football off the English club's agenda for the five years when Lineker was in his prime he revelled in a Barcelona side that constantly played second fiddle to Real Madrid.

Had there been no ban imposed for the Heysel disaster, he would undoubtedly have led the front-line of one of England's major sides against continental opposition and that has to be one major regret.

Lineker was not just a great striker and goalscorer, but also an ambassador for the game and he thoroughly deserves his place in the top ten of all-time English players.

PLAYING HONOURS

Barcelona
Copa del Rey 1988
European Cup Winners' Cup 1989

Tottenham Hotspur
FA Cup 1991

English First Division Top Scorer
1985, 1986, 1990

FIFA World Cup - Golden Boot
1986 (Mexico)

DID YOU KNOW ... Lineker was part of a consortium that helped rescue his beloved Leicester City when he agreed to put in a six-figure sum. Emile Heskey followed suit.

Lucas Brown, Goal.com

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