After failing by a single goal to match Sir Bobby Charlton’s England scoring record of 49 goals, Gary Lineker said that Bobby deserved to keep the record because he was the better player.
Lineker’s modesty belies the fact that he scored his 48 goals in 26 fewer games than Charlton, making the Leicester-born striker one of England’s most prolific post-war scorers.
He was also one of the few to play successfully abroad. Barcelona fans still cherish the memory of his hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Real Madrid in 1986/87, his first season at the Nou Camp.
His England total includes five hat-tricks (including the memorable first-half demolition of Poland in the 1986 World Cup) and he is one of only three England players, along with Steve Bloomer and Jimmy Greaves, to have scored four goals in an international match twice.
Despite England’s 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup, Lineker’s six goals – including his country’s consolation strike in that match – still won him the competition’s Golden Boot.
It remains the highest number of goals amassed by a British player at a single Finals. He added another four goals for England in Italy four years later, making him one of only eleven players to reach double figures in the history of the World Cup Finals.