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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Lineker's perfect report
Gary Lineker
Lineker remains a popular figure with Leicester fans

Schoolchildren looking for a good excuse to "lose" their end of term reports would do well to cite the example of Gary Lineker.

"Must devote less of his time to sport if he wants to be a success," wrote one of the former England captain's teachers.

  Gary Lineker factfile
Born: 30 November 1960
Clubs: Leicester, Everton, Barcelona, Tottenham, Nagoya Grampus Eight
Career goals: 322
England caps: 80
England goals: 48

Leaving his Leicester school with four O-levels, Lineker wisely chose to ignore that advice and instead joined his hometown club as an apprentice.

He will rarely have made a better decision.

Then 18, Gary Winston Lineker made his debut in 1978, beginning as a winger before taking up his role as penalty-box poacher, scoring 90 goals in nearly 200 appearances.

He was instrumental in Leicester's promotion to the top flight in 1983 but a move to a bigger club became inevitable and in 1985 he moved to Everton for 850,000.

Gary Lineker
Lineker joined Leicester as a 16-year-old

By then he was an automatic choice for England manager Bobby Robson, and he announced his arrival on the world stage at the 1986 World Cup finals.

Though his country were knocked out in the quarter-finals, Lineker left Mexico with the Golden Ball to add to his players' and football writers' player of the year awards.

Lineker was, by now, one of Europe's most prized strikers and Barcelona manager Terry Venables made Everton a 2.75m offer they could not refuse.

The move was not an unqualified success but the 25-year-old still notched 44 goals in 99 games before moving on to Tottenham in 1989.

Lineker's star was to rise further at the 1990 World Cup where his four goals propelled England to the semi-finals and cemented his status as a national hero in England.

And even in his darkest hour, when he was substituted by Graham Taylor in what was his final game for England, he remained one of football's most popular figureheads.

Gary Lineker
Lineker is England's second highest goalscorer
After 80 goals in 138 games for Spurs, Lineker made a surprise move to Japanese club Grampas Eight in the summer of 1993.

Following a largely unproductive season in the J-League and dogged by a toe injury, he decided to end his playing days in 1994 aged 33.

Having never been booked in 12 years, Lineker's image remained squeaky-clean - and, as it turned out, tailor-made for his current role as BBC Sport's pre-eminent football presenter.

In the years after his departure from Leicester, Lineker admitted that his love for the club he supported as a boy had waned - but the passion would seem to have returned with some interest.

That passion, and Leicester City's love affair with the son of a local greengrocer, could be tested fully in the coming months as he fronts the consortium bidding to save the club.

Gary Lineker heads a consortium bidding to save cash-strapped Leicester City

Lineker steps in

Leicester in trouble

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