Football: Lineker swelters in vain: England's former captain finds a warm welcome but goals hard to come by on his first taste of Japanese football in steamy Nagoya

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The Independent Online
Gary Lineker, the former England captain, was cheered every time he touched the ball but showed few glimpses of his goal- scoring talents as his new Japanese side, Grampus Eight, drew

1-1 with Corinthians of Brazil in Nagoya yesterday.

Lineker, playing his first game in Japan, played the last 50 minutes of the game to delight a 30,000 crowd in temperatures soaring over 100F.

The former Tottenham striker, who ended his England career after the European Championship in Sweden, had few clear chances. He was tightly marked and looked out of condition in the sweltering heat and high humidity, playing with team-mates he first practised with yesterday.

'I did not expect too much from today,' Lineker said. 'I have done no training since the European Championship in Sweden. It was fairly unbearable out there. Everyone had to play slowly.

'I want to say thank you to the fans whose warm welcome made this long trip worthwhile. It is fantastic to know you are popular.

'I am very satisfied. I hope we will have the same enthusiasm when we start the professional league next year. I am confident I will score goals then.'

The midfielder Tetsuya Ashano opened the scoring for Grampus with a superbly struck shot from 35 yards in the 87th minute, only for Wilson Carlos Mario to equalise with a perfectly flighted free- kick from just outside the penalty box in injury time.

Lineker plans to return to Nagoya in February next year to prepare for the new league, which starts in May. 'I feel comfortable with the other players. They have a high standard,' he said.

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