How Gary Lineker’s Leicester City career nearly ended before it started

Gary Lineker is remembered as one of Leicester City’s most iconic players.

The Leicester-born striker chalked up 103 goals across 216 first-team appearances for the Foxes, ahead of moving to Everton for £800,000 in 1985.

A year later he would join Barcelona, with City receiving a £250,000 sell-on fee, before returning to English football with Tottenham Hotspur.

Now the recognisable face of Match of the Day, Lineker led the New Fox consortium to bring Leicester out of administration in the 2002-03 campaign.

However, his memorable career at Filbert Street, which led to 80 England caps, may have never got off the ground following a freak incident as a youngster.

Having spent most of his youth at Aylestone Park, Lineker did briefly join a Syston-based team as a teenager. There he played alongside one-time Leicester player Kevin Reed, with whom Lineker would later sign his apprenticeship with at City.

Reed, who is now a driving instructor in Quorn, sets the scene on an infamous moment.

“When he [Lineker] signed for Syston we trained at the gym in Wreake Valley College, Syston,” he said. “If the lights went off, they took ages to come back on again. We were training one night, and some young kids came and switched the lights off and ran across the open field which was pitch black.”

Ultimately frustrated at the disruption to their training session, Lineker, Reed and the rest of the players sought about finding the troublemakers. But given the far from ideal evening conditions, Lineker suffered an unfortunate incident.

Reed continues: “We went after them, chasing after them, seeing if we could get hold of them but we couldn’t. But Lineker ran full tilt into a litter bin that was set in concrete in the middle of this open area. Well, he was pretty quick, we were similar sort of speeds at the time, he literally ran straight into this thing on the pitch.”

Clearly amused by the comical moment, Reed reflects on the moment’s hilarity, a sentiment that was not held by Lineker at the time.

He said: “Well of course we thought that was hilarious. He was moaning! It must have hurt him, but as young 14-15-year olds we just thought it was so funny, but I don’t suppose he did! It could have finished him before he’d even started.”

Fortunately, Lineker suffered no lasting damage from the incident and, of course, went on to be one of Leicester’s most-successful sons.



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