By 90Min
June 11, 2018

Imagine the scene. The clock strikes 9pm in Cagliari. It is time for your country's first game of the 1990 World Cup. Standing opposite you in the tunnel is the Republic of Ireland.

You know how important this game is. Ireland are still raving about their 1-0 victory over England at Euro 1988, a game in which you know you should have performed better. Revenge is on the cards.

Nine minutes in, and a beautiful lofted through ball comes your way. You manage to touch it round the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to put your team ahead. 

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything. Everything could go wrong. Just ask Gary Lineker.

Lineker's clever touch and sheer determination had put England 1-0 up early on. Around an hour later, Lineker had suffered arguably his most embarrassing moment as a footballer. To this day he is constantly reminded of it.

He 'relaxes himself' on the pitch. Yes, that's right. Gary Lineker suffered from diarrhoea in front of 35,238 fans, in front of his teammates and opponents, and in front of the audience watching at home on television. A quick search on YouTube and you will find the footage for yourself.

Simon Bruty/GettyImages

It was never confirmed what had happened on the pitch. Lineker's unusual actions, including dragging his behind along the floor, were incredibly strange to watch, but none of the viewing public were certain of what Lineker had done.

The rumours began. Fans were suggesting that he had indeed defecated on the pitch, but without any official confirmation, they were simply rumours. Fortunately, the Leicester City legend is known to be a good sport. He regularly jokes about his colleagues and teammates, and is happy to laugh when he is the butt of the joke.

He did an interview with the BBC to mark his 50th birthday, in which he finally came clean about the whole incident.

Simon Miles/GettyImages

"I’ve never admitted to it, but it’s true," he confessed. 

"It was a World Cup game. It’s filmed, I’ve seen it but unless you know [what was happening] you wouldn’t know."

Lineker insisted: "I was not very well, I was poorly at half time but I carried on.

"The ball went down the left hand side, I did try to tackle someone, I stretched and then I ‘relaxed myself’. 

Simon Bruty/GettyImages

"I was very fortunate it rained that night and I could do something about it. It was messy, it just came out, it happened. How much detail do you want?"

Finally, he added: "You can see me rubbing the ground like a dog; it was the most horrendous experience of my life. But I tell you I never found so much space in a game than I did that night after that happened."

To make matters worse, Ireland then equalised, and the game finished 1-1.


Both teams advanced past the group stages of the tournament. Ireland beat Romania in the Round of 16, before losing 1-0 to hosts Italy in the quarter finals.

England made it one step further. They defeated Belgium and Cameroon, before losing in the semi finals to eventual champions West Germany.

Lineker, who also played for Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona in his 16-year career, is still taunted by this event online. Almost every time he posts on Twitter, his replies are full of fans mentioning it. He even jokes about it himself, proving that he is not too haunted by the experience.

Let's hope there isn't a repeat of this at this summer's World Cup.

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