Gary Lineker admits he fears crying live on BBC TV if Leicester beat Chelsea to win first FA Cup

THE last time Leicester City played in the FA Cup final, an eight-year-old Gary Lineker sobbed on the train journey home.

This time, Lineker has warned the millions who will watch him host Saturday’s live BBC coverage, that he is likely to break down in tears again — but only if Leicester beat Chelsea to lift the trophy for the first time.

Back in 1969, weeks before man first landed on the moon, Lineker travelled to Wembley with dad Barry and grandad Harold to see their beloved Foxes lose 1-0 to Manchester City — in what was the club’s fourth FA Cup final defeat.

Lineker has since reached the semi-final with Leicester, the final with Everton, and finally lifted the Cup with Tottenham.

Peter Shilton, who conceded Neil Young’s winner 52 years ago, would become a team-mate of Lineker on England’s run to the 1990 World Cup semi-final.

But the life-long Leicester fan insists that he will be more nervous today than for any of those matches he experienced as a player.

Lineker said: “I don’t normally get nervous when I broadcast and I didn’t get nervous as a player but I do get nervous when I watch — and definitely will for this final.

“It will be really hard after the game because they come to me straight after the final whistle. I’ll either have to hide my incredible disappointment at us losing a fifth final — which I shall do — but the most difficult thing will be if we win.

“I’ll struggle to hold it together and hold back the tears.

“In my old age, I’ve gone a bit soft and I get emotional at times, as I did when Leicester won the league in 2016 — although I wasn’t broadcasting live that night. I just hope I do have that problem.

WIN £50,000! Play Dream Team Euros – our FREE fantasy football game this summer

“In 1969, I went with my dad and grandad, on the train. I don’t think I’d ever been on a train to London. That in itself was an excitement.

“Leicester had one or two chances and I remember the goal past Shilton, who was my hero.

“My most vivid memory was  crying on the train home and I didn’t think we’d have to wait 52 years to get back there.”

Three of Lineker’s four sons — Harry, Angus and Tobias — will be at Wembley roaring on the Foxes today, although he insists it would have been “unfair” to get a ticket for his eldest, the Manchester United-supporting George.

Lineker has experienced the full range of Cup experiences — losing to non-league Harlow Town with Leicester in 1980 and winning the trophy with Spurs against Nottingham Forest in 1991.

As one of the many high-profile figures who voiced opposition to the breakaway European Super League, he insists the Cup is the “epitome” of English football’s pyramid system, which was threatened last month.

Lineker said: “When the news broke about the ESL plan, I thought it was a preposterous idea.

“I thought it couldn’t happen, then I thought, ‘Could it?’

“It felt like a rush job, that they hadn’t thought it through — and for once the small people won over the big men, the billionaires. Everybody from journalists, TV pundits to fans universally loathed the idea and united to defeat it.

“The Cup is the epitome of the pyramid system, it goes way beyond the Football League, starting with the preliminary rounds in August.

“And there’s always a possibility of small clubs playing the biggest teams, which would never have  happened under that ESL plan.

“Clubs like Leicester can’t compete with Liverpool, United, City and Chelsea financially but they have proved what’s possible.

“We all know those supposed Big Six clubs are unlikely to ever get relegated but it has happened in the past and we get different teams being successful over time — in fact, you can make a case for Leicester being one of the Big Six now, in sporting terms not financially.

"I think there will be a lot of  neutral support for Leicester because they weren’t one of the clubs  threatening to break away — just as there was when they won the league, which was the miracle everyone wanted.”

Lineker is adamant he would rather see Leicester win the Cup than qualify for the Champions League — as another crucial match with Chelsea looms on Tuesday in the Premier League.

He said: “If you gave me a choice, definitely the FA Cup over the Champions League.

“It’s a trophy and the chances of us actually winning the Champions League are so remote for a relatively small club.

"Financially the league game is bigger but any fan will tell you we want the FA Cup. If we’d won it before we might weigh it up differently.

“It’s a massive week for Brendan Rodgers and the club. We’re the only team who’ve been in the top four all season and it would be too much to see us drop out on the final day.”

Lineker expects a tight, even final — although he worries about Chelsea’s former Fox N’Golo Kante.

He added: “He’s an extraordinary footballer, he is bloody everywhere. Why can’t he have a day off out of respect to his old club?”

Lineker is enjoying his team’s  “old-fashioned front two” of Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho. But he fears the “occasional high-line madness” in   Leicester’s defending, hoping that experienced centre-back Jonny Evans will be fit for the final.

And Lineker is glowing about manager Rodgers’ achievements.

He said: “Brendan took over when Claude Puel’s football had been dull.


“It felt a good appointment and, from day one, he made sure the experienced players were on board — he is canny, calm, tactically astute, a very good coach who has fostered a real togetherness.

“People rightly talk about Liverpool’s injuries but pretty much every Leicester player has been out for a spell this season, so to achieve what they have is incredible.

“If we finish in the Europa League and don’t win the FA Cup the  disappointment will be massive but even then it still wouldn’t be a dreadful season — just a dreadful end to a very good one.”

Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

    Source: Read Full Article