Posts Tagged ‘Danielle Lineker’

Gary Lineker’s boot was the only validation on a moral victory over Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’. It was in Mexico in 1986 that cheating Diego touched the ball over the England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. The only recompense we got that year was that Gary came home with the Golden Boot, having scored six during the tournament.

Match of the Day is now as much a part of British life as fish ‘n chips; as the presenter of the show, Gary’s enthused hyping of the matches and gentle dissection of tactics feels as familiar as a cup of tea. At some point in my life I probably wanted to be him. I lived in a cul-de-sac and the wall outside our house was our goal. God knows how much time I spent teeing up shots for the other kids, practising my passing and smashing the ball at that wall.

After talking to Mrs Lineker last week, I asked if she would pass me on to someone else to interview. ‘Gary’s here’ she said, ‘Fancy talking to him?’ A week later he was killing time at Heathrow before heading to Dublin to see her and we had a natter about footballers wages, the nature of happiness and being the crisp bloke.

PMO – Thanks a lot for talking to me.

GL -That’s all right I just do what I’m told. Life’s so much easier that way.

PMO -What’s been the more fulfilling for you – the career you had as a footballer or the career you have now as a presenter?

GL- In many ways the broadcasting. You don’t have the highs of the football, with moments of euphoria or even despair but I was born to be in the box not on the box. For some inexplicable reason I had the natural gift of knowing how to score goals but while I worked hard at football, I had to work even harder to carve out a career in broadcasting. It didn’t come naturally to me at the beginning, it took a lot of hard work and dedication to get to the stage where I was comfortable in front of the cameras and the environment I was working in. The awards that I’ve won in TV give me more satisfaction than those that I won in football.

PMO – It’s strange to hear you say that. When you see people like Wayne Rooney score goals like the one he did last week (a flying overhead kick) and 75,000 people in the stadium go nuts and then millions more across the globe…

GL -That’s kind of my point. You never replace those moments of sheer elation but you never knew you were going to get them anyway which is one of the reasons it was so amazing when they happened. You were never quite sure when your last goal was going to be. That is irreplaceable. I’m not necessarily talking about which gives you the greatest thrill but in terms of personal pride, because broadcasting was very much a secondary profession until it reached the levels which were comparable with what I achieved in football, it makes me reasonably proud.

PMO -When you scored all those goals for England in the ’86 World Cup did you have any sense of what it meant to all the people back home? I was wondering when the last time you were in a pub and how nuts the nation goes when it’s on?

GL – Of course I do because I cover it for the Beeb but you don’t really have any perception of what’s going on back home when you’re playing because you’re cocooned in this protective environment of hotels, security, bus rides and games, especially in those days. Nowadays it’s probably different with technology and computers. You can grasp anything that’s going on back home.  In Mexico in 86 you couldn’t even make a phone call from a landline – we had one phone in the hotel we could use every other day. No mobile phones then, not even phones in the room. In those days you had no idea what was happening at home. Nowadays you do but I think its always a surprise when you come back from a World Cup and see the effect its had.

PMO – Do you think there is more pressure now because of the incessant coverage of the internet?

GL – There’s always been pressure and the great players will always handle that. The spotlight is ever bigger, football seems to grow and grow and it just becomes seemingly so important to so many people.

PMO – Can you describe what its like to be famous?

GL – It’s become part of life, it’s how it is. I’d notice it more now if I wasn’t recognised everywhere with people shouting, ‘It’s the crisp bloke’.

PMO – Do you get that a lot?

GL – Oh yeah, all the time. Its been so long since I was anonymous, half my life, I cant really remember what it was like when I wasn’t known by everybody. I’ve dealt with it a long time. 99.9% of people are really friendly which makes it easy. If you get irked by people being pleasant there’s something wrong with you – you’ll give yourself worry and drive yourself bonkers. We all get bad moods occasionally when we can’t be bothered but that shouldn’t be very frequent.

PMO – When you got divorced and then started seeing Danielle I think a few journalists were a bit catty about that. Do you care what the general public think of you?

GL – Anyone who says they don’t care is made of sterner stuff than most people or just lying. It’s never pleasant. I didn’t start seeing Danielle until two or three years after I’d split up with Michelle. It wasn’t like I left one for another, it was never the case. I got a bit of stick occasionally after the divorce but it was only from people who didn’t know what was going on in terms of their ignorance of the realities of it, so I largely ignored it.

PMO – When you started seeing Danielle did you realise that the papers might get a bit excited about it?

GL – Course because I hadn’t been seen with anyone. I hadn’t met anyone that I’d got close to wanting to introduce to my kids or be seen in public with. I always knew there would be a great deal of interest in ‘the next woman’ if you like.

PMO – Danielle mentioned that some of the press intrusion was underhand and intrusive. How did you feel about that – were you wary of it, did you expect it?

GL – When we first got caught by the paparazzi she was sort of laughing about it but I just said to her, ‘You have no idea what’s about to happen.’

PMO – So you were trying to prepare her for the worst?

GL- I tried to but there was an investigation into every aspect of her life with people trying to talk to her friends.  That becomes very intrusive for a while until they get bored and move onto someone else. They’ll dig and dig and dig but that’s how it is, you have to put up with it. Overall the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Also the PR can be very useful, the self PR for a start, PR for a company you’re working for like Walkers or the BBC, charity stuff. The only thing that really gets to me is untruths which are written, which happens on a fairly regular basis.

PMO – Do you ever think about suing?

GL – I’ve sued a number of times now, it’s the only way. If you don’t sue quickly it becomes ‘true’. It goes onto the internet and it stays there unless you sue. I wish I’d got onto that a bit earlier. There were one or two things written earlier on that I left alone and I should have dealt with it. I’ve found things are much better when you take action when people write wrong things.

PMO – Do you think footballers get paid too much?

GL – They do and they always have done, including when I played but footballers will get paid the going rate. If people are prepared to pay them that it’s not their fault. You could never sit there and justify their wages in comparison to people who do real work. They’re in the entertainment business. Whether its football, basketball or baseball, acting – top actors get paid fortunes, thats how it is. You’ll never justify it.

PMO – How important is money to you?

GL – It makes things easier but it’s not what motivates me. I dont think I’m greedy. I get well paid and I get that. I think we all get paid the best wage we can if I’m honest. I’ve been offered lots of things that I’ve turned down. I dont do things just for money.

PMO – Do you think money can bring happiness?

GL – Happiness is fleeting anyway isn’t it? Happiness is something that is there for a while, then goes away, comes back again. I don’t think there is an eternal happiness. It’s one of the aspects of doing well in whatever you do. Earning a good wage is one of the things that can make life a lot easier.

PMO – When was the last time you were very happy?

GL – I’m very happy now. As happy as you can be waiting for a flight! I’m absolutely totally aware of how fortunate I’ve been in life and to have two really enjoyable and successful careers and lots of kids. Life’s full of ups and downs but generally I’ve been blessed really.

PMO – You’ve been successful in two careers – do you have any ambitions left to fulfil?

GL – I’ve done what I do for quite a long time and more of the same would be fine but I’ve veered away from branching out into entertainment: TV shows, quiz shows, I don’t feel comfortable in that genre. Various things have been thrown at me over the years that I’ve knocked back. I don’t want to be that busy, I’m not that greedy and I don’t want to go too far out of my comfort zone. I think I’ve got a niche that works around football and there’s a danger that you can put your head above a parapet and I’m in a position where I don’t need to do that. One ambition I do have that is largely out of my hands is that I’d love to do a live broadcast and utter the words at the end that England have won the World Cup. That would be very special. I fear it may never come true!

PMO – You’re 50 now so I guess you might have another what, 10 World Cups left?

GL – 10 World Cups! 40 years – I’ll be 90!

PMO – You’ll probably make that, you’re a fit bloke.

GL – Christ almighty, 90! I wont live that long!

PMO – How come you’ve always got a tan?

GL – I’ve got olive skin, same as my mother and her mother, it’s that side of the family. They’re from Norfolk so something’s gone on somewhere along the line. I’ve definitely got something in me from overseas somewhere. I do tan very quickly and we do try and get away occasionally. I don’t spray or go on sun beds!

PMO, Lastly, you’re always pretty well turned out when we see you on the telly. I wondered if you could help Mark Lawrenson out with his haircut?

GL – Lawro’s hair is beyond help now. It’s a frizz thats gone beyond a frizz.