Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Gary Lineker, Match of the Day presenter and former footballer

'I remember thinking the 11-plus was easy'


Gary Lineker, 49, is England's highest scorer in World Cup finals and regarded as one of our best-ever strikers. He has played for Leicester City, Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham. He will present Sport Relief on BBC1 on 19 March. He is a patron of the charity CLIC Sargent and has just launched its "Kick for Children with Cancer" annual appeal aimed at schools and youth football clubs (www.clic sargent. org.uk /football).

Our headmaster at Caldecote Juniors was pretty fierce. He was German, straight out of the Gestapo. I remember being caned a couple of times – and one of those times I was entirely innocent. The other time? Cheekiness. There were some good teachers at Caldecote Juniors and I enjoyed lessons. I was always happy in English – I write all my own scripts – as well as mathematics, particularly mental arithmetic. (Algebra I found more difficult: less logical.) Caldecote Juniors was where I started playing football and I had a degree of success. When I was nine or 10 I got into the under-eleven side.

I passed the 11-plus, thinking, "That exam was really easy." I remember one question: "Which is the tallest tree?" There was a picture of three trees which appeared to be of the same height – except that one was in a dip in the ground and was obviously twice the height of the others. I thought, "How can anyone fail to get that?"

The issue now was that I would have to go to a rugby-playing school, as our house in Leicestershire was in its catchment area, but if I lived in the city of Leicester I would have a choice of four schools – and only two of them were rugby schools. I had scored a lot of goals (three or four a game) and clearly showed promise at football, because my parents moved to a house in the city. For six months before that I lived with my grandmother in Leicester.

I wasn't a great lover of school but City of Leicester Boys was a good school and a good sporting school. There were some good teachers and I got on with the teachers in the subjects I preferred, such as English and maths. I got an A in maths and in one of the English O-levels and probably a B in geography. I was always fairly hopeless at science and got a couple of Ds. I used to enjoy history and then we had a teacher who seemed hell-bent on converting us to communism; I got Ungraded for history.

If I'd known how difficult it was to be a footballer, I'd have worked harder at school. I did okay, but my mind was elsewhere. My last report said something along the lines of:"He concentrates far too much on football. He'll never make a living at that." These were wise words in many ways; a huge percentage of boys don't make a living at it.

When you do well at one sport, you tend to do well at other sports. I was in both the football and cricket teams and got a lot of goals and runs. I was captain of the Leicestershire Schools cricket team from 11 to 16 and thought at the time I would probably have more chance afterwards in cricket than football.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz