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Volume 10 No. 25
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BBC Presenter Gary Lineker Talks About His Career, Charities, Escalating Salaries

BBC "Match of the Day" presenter GARY LINEKER got an early start to his football career. At age 16, Lineker left school to play for Leicester City, later moving to Everton and Barcelona. He joined Tottenham in '89 before finishing his career with Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight. Lineker, 52, who lives in southwest London with his wife, Danielle, recently talked about his career, charities and football salaries with Natalie Graham of the FINANCIAL TIMES.

FT: Do you want to carry on until you drop?
LINEKER: I will certainly try to carry on for as long as I am fit and healthy. I feel fortunate that because of what I have achieved in my professional life I am in a position where I can make a difference, either through raising funds or raising awareness. I enjoy what I do, so I don’t see it as onerous. It is a great thing to be paid to watch football, which is something that I would do anyway, even when retirement is forced upon me.

FT: What is your commitment to charity?
LINEKER: Probably not enough. I don’t think you can ever do enough really. One of my sons was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital for leukaemia. I will always feel I have some debt towards the hospital for their brilliance, and the way they got him through it. George was just a couple of months old when he was taken ill, but he is 21 now and he is fine. I am the patron of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity Tick Tock Club, a major donor club. Members pledge £25,000 ($39,500) a year for three years, and we have a number of get-togethers a year that I host. Overall we have raised £20.6M ($32.6M) in the past six years. It’s amazing to see that the work has come to fruition. The facilities are so much better than they were a couple of years ago.

FT: Do you think Premier League footballers are overpaid?
LINEKER: Yes, footballers have always been overpaid. You cannot justify their salary to someone who does a real job, like a nurse or firefighter, but it is the entertainment business. Top musicians and actors don’t really deserve what they get either. Top players today are getting between £100,000 ($158,000) and £200,000 ($316,000) a week, which really is quite remarkable (FINANCIAL TIMES, 1/25).