Gary Lineker's football career: Here are all the clubs he played for before he retired

Gary Lineker has established himself as a great footballer and pundit, with a career full of ups, downs, and embarrassing moments. One of which was kept a secret for a very long time...

Gary Lineker BBC presenter
© Marc Atkins / Contributeur
Gary Lineker BBC presenter

Gary Lineker has made a massive living out of football—not just from being one of BBC’s biggest sports pundits. Lineker knows the game through and through because he himself is considered one of the UK’s finest footballers. He’s specifically known for his skills as a striker and also for never having received a red or yellow card in his entire career.

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So, what do we know about his career and which clubs did Lineker play for?

Lineker’s career as a football player

Leicester City

Gary Lineker's storied football career is marked by notable performances both in domestic leagues and on the international stage. He began his professional journey with Leicester City in 1977, becoming a significant player by the early 1980s.


His remarkable goal-scoring ability was evident in the 1984/85 season when he scored 29 goals, leading to his transfer to Everton in 1985 for £800,000. At Everton, Lineker's impact was immediate; he scored 38 goals in all competitions during his sole season there, showcasing his ‘poacher's instinct’ and exceptional finishing skills, which were instrumental in earning him the Footballer Of The Year award in 1986.


Following his success in the English league, Lineker moved to Barcelona for a record £2.2 million after the 1986 World Cup, where he had clinched the Golden Boot. His tenure at Barcelona lasted three seasons, during which he scored 58 goals and helped the team secure the Copa Del Rey and the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Tottenham Hotspur

In 1989, Lineker returned to England, signing with Tottenham Hotspur, where he continued to excel by becoming the First Division’s top scorer shortly after his return. His time at Tottenham was highlighted by winning the FA Cup in 1991, which stood as his only domestic trophy.

Nagoya Grampus

Lineker concluded his playing career at Nagoya Grampus in Japan in 1994 after a battle with persistent foot injuries that ultimately curtailed his playing days.

Throughout his career, Lineker was celebrated for his clean play, having never received a booking in over 600 club and international appearances, a testament to his sportsmanship and fair play. England manager Bobby Robson praised him, saying:

Gary was simply the best finisher I’ve ever seen.

Gary’s love for football didn’t stop when he retired. He went on to become one of the biggest football commentators in the UK—earning the spot of highest-paid male presenter in 2023. His career in media has not come without its challenges, given the fact that he’s very outspoken about his opinions, which has caused problems for the BBC before. However, he’s certainly had a very smooth transition from playing on field to commentating on the sport.

Even though it’s been years since Lineker has not played professionally, he often gives his fans glimpses into his life as a footballer—sharing the good, the bad, and sometimes the disgusting...

Gary’s infamous anecdote from the 1990 World Cup

Speaking on the Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast in April 2023, he spilled the tea on a story that had been kept a secret for many many years—his ‘poo incident’ in the 1990 World Cup.

On the podcast he revealed that he had been sick the night before England’s game against the Republic of Ireland. Despite the pain, he decided to go ahead and play. He said, as his co-hosts Michal Richards and Alan Shearer listened eagerly:

But I didn't tell anyone because I wanted to play. 15 minutes in the second half I start cramping and I think "oh christ I'm in a s*** load of pain here".
The ball goes out on their left hand side and I kind of did a lunge at it and as I did that I kind of relaxed.

You can only imagine what happened when Lineker decided to ‘relax’—something inside him went ‘BOOF’. He added:

‘I've gone "Oh my God". And I'm sat there on the ground and it's all there.'

When Gary Stevens asked him what happened, he said:

‘I've s*** myself’

Yes, you read that right—and it was kept a secret for about ‘20 odd years’, reveals Lineker. He added:

My family knew, the players knew, but it never came out.

While he kept that secret in his pants for a fair amount of time, Lineker is not one to shy away from embarrassing himself from time to time. As host of Match of the Day, he has raised eyebrows with his antics and jokes several times.

Gary’s topless antic from 2016

In 2016, BBC viewers turned on the show to find Lineker stripped down to his shorts. Why?

Well, Lineker promised viewers that he would host an episode of Match of the Day in only a pair of shorts. What was the condition for this daring promise? Leicester City, the first club he played for professionally, winning the 2015-16 Premier League title.

He tweeted at the time:

YES! If Leicester win the @premierleague I'll do the first MOTD of next season in just my undies.

In a surprising turn of events, that is exactly what happened. Daily Mail reported it as ‘one of the biggest shocks in football history.’ Lineker is a man of his word and appeared topless, only in his white shorts, when opening the first episode of the programme for the 2016-17 season.

The crowd went crazy and you can imagine the kind of reactions he received for his his special outfit. Journalist Alastair Campbell tweeted, as reported by The Guardian:

Playing it totally straight - brilliant @GaryLineker too stuff. But those 200 sit ups a day should have been 500. #absgate #MOTD

Another user tweeted:

Gary Lineker is a man of his word. Bravo.

Read more:

Gary Lineker’s jaw-dropping salary: Here’s what he earns as a BBC host

Ryan Giggs: Former Man United player to become dad for third time at 50

Alex Scott: Here's the six-figure salary of one of the most influential voices in football

Sources used:

Metro: Who did Gary Lineker play for and did he ever get booked?

Daily Mail: 'I've relaxed and it's just gone BOOF and I'm sat on the ground and it's all there': Gary Lineker opens up on THAT infamous moment he soiled himself on the pitch during England's game with Republic of Ireland at Italia 90

Daily Mail: From presenting the show in his pants after Leicester won the league to THAT porn noises prank... Gary Lineker's five best moments as Match of the Day presenter after he is made to 'step back' from hosting the show

The Guardian: Gary Lineker presents Match of the Day in his underpants


Gary Lineker believes Frank Lampard could be a good replacement for Gareth Southgate if he retires Gary Lineker believes Frank Lampard could be a good replacement for Gareth Southgate if he retires