May 27, 2011 5:46 pm

The Inventory: Gary Lineker

‘I was born to be in the box rather than on the box’
Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker, 50, former England striker and captain, remains England’s top scorer in the Fifa World Cup finals. Awarded an OBE in 1992, he presents the BBC’s Match of the Day and is the Uefa Champions League ambassador for today’s final at Wembley

What was your earliest ambition?

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To be a footballer or a cricketer, depending on the season.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Grammar school: City of Leicester Boys’ as it was then. School was about getting through lessons until sports started. I was spotted when I was 12 or 13 by the chief scout for Leicester, Ray Shaw. That led to an apprenticeship.

Who was or still is your mentor?

My parents were hugely supportive; they moved so I could go to a football-playing school. And George Dewis, who coached what you’d describe as the academy nowadays. His training made a massive difference to my finishing abilities. I owe him a lot.

How physically fit are you?

For my age, very. I work out hard, two or three times a week. I’m in pretty good shape and the same weight as I was when I played.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

They’re both important but without talent you’ve got no chance.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No, for fear I would find out I was thick.

How politically committed are you?

I’m genuinely one of those floating voter types.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

To a degree, but I do travel a lot.

Do you have more than one home?

No.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

I’m envious of one or two people I know who can afford a private plane. That would be the ultimate luxury.

In what place are you happiest?

On holiday, where I can switch off. Our favourite place is probably Italy. We got married there [he married his second wife, Danielle Bux, in 2009]; Ravello is beautiful.

What ambitions do you still have?

I’ve been hugely fortunate in finding two things I can do, football and broadcasting, and I’m not really seeking a third. My ambitions now lie more for Danielle and her acting career. It’s exciting seeing her doing something different.

What drives you on?

I’ve always tried to be the best that I can be at whatever I’m doing. What keeps me going is fear of failure as much as anything.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

In terms of football, winning the Golden Boot in 1986 – no other English player has ever managed to achieve that. But, in a funny sort of way, winning awards for being a presenter gives me more pleasure.

I think I was born to be in the box rather than on the box and, while the football came easy, I’ve had to work really hard at broadcasting.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

Losing the penalty shootout to Germany in 1990 in the semi-final. To have won the World Cup would have been unbelievable.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

He’d be hugely shocked at what I’d achieved.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I don’t think I could find anything else I could do.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

If someone was suffering, it would be up to that person.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

No.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

10. I’ve played sport at the top for a living and lots of men would dream about that. Then I’ve gone on and talked about that sport for years.

I’m wonderfully happily married, I’ve got kids who are happy. But that score might plummet to five in a few years: happiness is fleeting.

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