Gary Lineker: What I've Learned

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

More From What I've Learned
20 articles
John Lydon
John Lydon On Trump, Punk And 'Selling Out'
Arnold Palmer: What I've Learned
Jeff Bridges
What I've Learned: Jeff Bridges

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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 thirty 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.

The Walkers Crisp Sarnie Club is open until September 24th #BarmyForSarnies

What do you think?

Wolfgang Puck
Food & Drink
Share
Wolfgang Puck: What I've Learned
Wit and wisdom from a true icon of eating​
Jeff Goldblum
Film
Share
Jeff Goldblum: What I've Learned
"I'm 63 and I feel I'm on the threshold of the most delicious part of life. You're not going to hear me squawk."
Don Delillo
Culture
Share
Don DeLillo: What I've Learned
"I don't want to learn too much, I want to be free to invent"
Mo Farah Nike running
Culture
Share
Mo Farah: What I've Learned
The twice Olympic gold medal winner and holder of seven global titles sat down with Esquire to talk about how he gets in the zone for a...
Irvine Welsh
Books
Share
Irvine Welsh: What I've Learned
"Don't mistake writing what you know for writing about yourself."
Film
Share
Morgan Freeman: What I've Learned
"I've always thought that career comes first. Family is a support mechanism. It doesn't work the other way around."
Harvey-Keitel-What-Ive-Learned-43
Film
Share
Harvey Keitel: What I've Learned
What life has taught the legendary actor
bowie-43
Culture
Share
David Bowie: 'You're Never Who You Think You Are'
Back in 2013, David Bowie shared his life lessons with Esquire
Alan-partridge-what-ive-learned-43
Film
Share
Alan Partridge: What I've Learned
As Steve Coogan turns 50, Norfolk's finest shares his life lessons
What-Ive-Learned-Ralph-Lauren-43
Fashion
Share
Ralph Lauren: What I've Learned
As he announces he is stepping down as CEO, we revisit the designer's life lessons