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Question Number: 33343

Other 5/13/2019

RE: Under 19

joshua of nunya bizniss, california usa asks...

How is it possible for Gary Lineker to have played a 20 year, 550+ game career and never receive a single booking of any sort? Recently saw this fact somewhere. How can a person play 20 years professionally and with the types of fouls referees are giving cautions for, he never received a single one? Not a single tactical, slight time delaying, or even hard foul? He did play in the 1980s and I've heard the game was a lot rougher back then, sort of that 'if there's no blood it's not a foul' style of play.

Any of you ever get to watch him and know how that was possible?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joshua
Yes that was the case. I watched Gary Lineker play and he did so at a time when cards were not as omnipresent as they are now.
I played the game at a high level and I was never sent off and I do not recall ever getting a card or before that having 'my name taken'. I am sure that if I was playing now I would be carded regularly!
So in many ways it was a different time in the game. Lineker was also England captain and also captain of his club. He no doubt showed a lot of respect to referees and opponents so there was no need to caution. He was not a renowned tackler either although did what was required for the team.
I know plenty of players who just play, do not get involved in any questionable situations. They do not throw themselves about or make rash challenges or question decisions and just get on with the game. If they do foul they accept the call, perhaps pull up the opponent off the ground with an apology. I find those players easy to deal with and do not need cards to control them.
I once played with a player who played at the highest level and he never went to ground, never tackled rashly and never got involved in anything untoward. He came off the field of play as he went on with not a spot of dirt on him despite playing on some atrocious pitches. I would come off covered in dirt yet he was always spotless. It was not as if he was not contributing to the team. Far from it as he was an exceptional player yet he played the game always standing up, not once going to ground or getting involved in anything rash. I do not ever recall him getting a card while I played with him!!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Joshua,
As ref McHugh says, it was probably a combination of his style of play and the fact that there was a slightly higher bar on cautions for reckless play than nowadays. I watched Linker play (only on television though, never in person) throughout his career and I would say he was a little like the player my colleague refers to, who never tackled rashly nor got involved in untoward behaviour such as dissent, while still being an exceptional player and a hard-working contributor to his team(s).

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