Football: Lineker retires to strike out in media

GARY LINEKER will turn his back on professional football when he retires at the end of the Japanese season to concentrate on a new career in the media.

Lineker, who announced his retirement yesterday while speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live from his home in Nagoya, Japan, said he had no plans to follow Bryan Robson - his former England team- mate and predecessor as captain - into management.

'I want to stay involved in the game somehow, but certainly not as a coach or manager,' Lineker, who will be 34 in November, said. 'That doesn't appeal.

'I don't think I'm the type and I wouldn't be any good at it either. I think my ambitions are certainly, in the near future, towards the media side of the game - TV or possibly the radio or perhaps writing a little bit.'

Lineker was a regular on BBC TV football programmes before he took up a two-year contract to play in Japan, and has also hosted his own show on BBC Radio. The departure of the presenter Bob Wilson from Grandstand may provide an opening.

The former Leicester, Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham striker's time with Grampus Eight has been beset by injuries, particularly to his toe. This restricted the number of games he has played and brought about the decision to retire.

'I've been incredibly fortuitous to have had the career I've had. It's gone better than ever I could have imagined,' he said. 'But what I've found at my age is that the speed isn't quite what it was. Things don't feel quite the same - little injuries have arrived. Things I've never had before, like a little pulled hamstring.

'I'm certainly not what I was and it's been frustrating not being able to perform as I used to. It's made the decision fairly easy.'

Lineker made 80 appearances for England - captaining his country 20 times - and his haul of 48 goals was one behind Bobby Charlton's all-time record.

His international career ended on a sour note, however, when Graham Taylor took him off during the 2-1 European Championships defeat by Sweden in 1992.

Predator with appeal, page 46

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