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tears and cheers Gary Lineker's FA Cup memories on a day he hopes to see his beloved Leicester lift the trophy


Gary Lineker (Ian Walton/PA)

Gary Lineker (Ian Walton/PA)

Gary Lineker (Ian Walton/PA)

As an eight-year-old Gary Lineker arrived at Wembley Stadium on the afternoon of April 26th, 1969, hope and expectation was pulsing through his veins.

Accompanied by dad Barry and grandfather Stanley, a starry-eyed Lineker looked up at the famous old Twin Towers that cast an iconic eye over each and every Wembley event back then hoping he would witness a moment of glory for his beloved Leicester City.

After FA Cup final defeats in 1961 and 1963, a Leicester side that had been relegated from the First Division aimed to upset the odds and end their miserable season on a high by winning the greatest domestic cup competition of them all for the first time in the club's history, yet it wasn't to be.

With a young Peter Shilton in goal, Leicester turned in a performance that surpassed many a pessimistic pre-match prediction, but it was not enough to overcome a City side made up entirely of English-born players, as Neil Young's 24th-minute strike was the only goal of the game.

Of course, Lineker's own football journey would take him back to Wembley as he won his own FA Cup winners' medal with Tottenham a little over two decades later, yet the memories of that first experience of the biggest day in English football are still with him.

"When you consider I can't remember what happened 52 days ago recalling a football match from 52 years ago is unlikely, so the fact I have recollections of that day shows how much it meant to me," begins the respected broadcaster who will be hosting the BBC coverage of this FA Cup final today.

"I started going to Leicester when I was seven with my dad and my grandad, who were season ticket holders at Filbert Street and fell in love with everything about it. To get to an FA Cup final and experience the occasion is something I will never forget, even though the result went against us against Man City.

"It would have been one of the first times I'd been on the train, so it was quite a momentous day for me on a number of levels and while I don't remember too much about the game, I remember crying all the way home on the train.

"We would never have thought then that we'd have to wait more than half a century to see the club back in the FA Cup final, but it is finally happening today."

Little did the Lineker clan know back that their boy would go on to play on more than 200 occasions for Leicester and achieve so much in the game, with his 1991 FA Cup win with Tottenham the proudest moment of his club career.

"Finishing as top scorer at the 1986 World Cup was special and in terms of my career it was massive, but football is a team game and it's all about winning trophies and the FA Cup victory with Spurs is the medal that means more to me than any other," continues the former England captain who scored 48 goals at international level.

"Having lost my first FA Cup final with Everton in 1986, I knew it would probably be my last chance to win it when Spurs got to the final against Nottingham Forest five years later.

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"I could feel the pressure that day. I was 30 and just desperate to win it, but it didn't look like it was going to go our way with Paul Gascoigne getting injured, I had a perfectly good goal disallowed, Mark Crossley saved my penalty and they were ahead.

"We were the better side and deserved to win it and the only sad part for me was the decisive moment was an own goal from Des Walker, who was a mate and I did feel for him. I just wish I'd scored the winner instead of him."

The full version of this interview appears in the official FA Cup final programme, available HERE

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