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'
Thursday 04 March 2010
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.
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 3 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
New York snow: Winter Storm Juno downgraded as 'one of the largest snowstorms in history' fails to show
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...
£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...
£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...