Since swapping the football pitch for the Match Of The Day studio, Gary Lineker has become a fashion icon in his own way and is almost as famous for his crisp shirts and stylish spectacles as his punditry. However, his style hasn’t always been this sharp. The 62-year-old is still ripped by friends about fashion disasters from his footballer days, and he cringes about the time he had a “hellish” shell suit range to his name.
Today, he’s fronting a new collection for Next, but in classic Lineker style he’s needed a fair few assists to score those fashion goals. “There was a lot of help,” he confesses. “I’m not necessarily brilliant at putting things together. At least it makes it easier to get dressed for events now. I’ve got all these pictures so I can remember what goes with what.”
Shop the look: T-Shirt, £32 here, Jeans, £26 here
The star has, of course, been in the headlines for more than his fashion choices recently. He caused a stir with his tweet criticising the government’s asylum policy and was suspended from the BBC very briefly before returning in triumph, following a mass walk-out by his supportive colleagues.
Here, we talk to Gary about his thoughts on that controversy, the one TV show you’ll never see him appear on, getting starstruck and his friendship with Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds…
How do you deal with the negativity of social media and being in the public eye?
I’m not the kind of person that gets stressed by it. I don’t really read the replies often, which is for the best given what happened a few weeks ago when I did actually read a reply. I don’t worry about it – I tweet my stuff and people make whatever they want of it. I think the truth is that most people are supportive, nice, friendly and kind, but there is an element of the extremes, whatever sign it is that shouts the loudest and you can be deluded into thinking that’s what everyone thinks when it’s actually not. I walk around the streets and I don’t get any stick – people are kind.
Shop the look: Striped T-Shirt, £16 here, Khaki blazer, £99 here, Jeans, £26 here, Derby shoes, £52 here
Would you ever go on a reality show like I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!?
If you see me on one of those, you know things have gone wrong – it would be my worst nightmare.
What’s the most starstruck you’ve ever felt?
Meeting Tiger Woods at a golf thing back in the day. Just because you’re famous yourself in some way, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have your heroes. I did a photoshoot with Cindy Crawford for Walkers 20-odd years ago and I was very excited, I have no idea why. I’ve met Lionel Messi loads of times and he’s my hero.
Is there anyone famous you would like to meet?
I’ve met a lot of amazing people but maybe Barack Obama. I’ve met Nelson Mandela!
Shop the look: Navy blazer, £89 here, Navy trousers, £50 here, Polo shirt, £40 here, Trainers, £50 here
Ryan Reynolds co-owns Wrexham AFC. Have you met him?
I met him at Wrexham. I interviewed him before a game recently and we’ve actually stayed in touch and we’ve been texting. I really like him and it’s an amazing story. They’ve been lucky as well and the drama that’s happened to their team. You can see he’s generally into it. I was texting him the other day after their amazing game. You can see it’s got to him.
You’re known for your fashion on Match Of The Day. Do you have a stylist?
I’ve always got my own clothes and I’ve always dressed myself on TV. There’s no wardrobe budget at BBC Sport so we all dress ourselves. There are a few guidelines though. On Match Of The Day we’ve got to be casual, or if we do a big live game then we’ve got to wear a suit. If it’s the FA Cup Final or World Cup Final, we all have a tie on and dress up. It’s nice to dress up sometimes, because actually nowadays no one works in a suit and tie so it’s great to have the chance.
Shop the look: Blazer, £104 here, Waistcoat, £55 here, Trousers, £55 here, White shirt, £45 here, Derby shoes, £99 here
Is your TV look different to how you dress at home?
Fairly different. For Match Of The Day it’s a green screen so we’re so restricted with what we can wear. We can’t wear green or white, we can’t wear any pattern because it will strobe, so you basically wear dark blue, light blue or black shirts. There’s not a lot of variety you can wear. Off screen I’m very much more casual. I generally just wear jeans, a T-shirt or shirt and a jacket. It’s different to what I would wear on TV.
How has your style changed since your footballer days?
I look back at some of the old pictures and on a regular basis I go, “What were you thinking?” But that’s what people wore then. I’m sure even in 20 years or so you’ll look back on things like this and go, “I’m not sure about that one.” Things do change and I think you just change with it. Most things go full circle and I’m really quite relieved at the moment. Tight jeans were a thing for ages, and now all of a sudden they’re baggy and they’re so much more comfortable. Even with drawstring trousers there’s more of a comfort and I think that might be part of getting older as well. We just want a bit more comfort [laughs].
Shop the look: Trousers, £50 here, Polo shirt, £40 here, Trainers, £50 here
Do you have any fashion regrets?
Loads! My friends will sometimes find a picture and send it to me and it will be some really garish sweater. I did a range of shell suits with my first wife [Michelle Cockayne] – I’ve seen those come back and they’re hellish. I remember during the  World Cup after we lost in the semi final, I stayed out with Bobby Robson. We won the FIFA Fair Play Award for England and when we accepted the award I had this awful black-and-white striped suit on. What was I thinking?
Who’s the best dressed footballer?
Footballers are very genuinely into fashion. They’re young men earning decent money so they can afford to splash out a bit. I admire people like Dominic Calvert-Lewin and James Maddison. I wouldn’t necessarily wear what they wear but I admire the fact that they’re bold. They stick to what they enjoy wearing and become fashion icons, because I know in the dressing room they would be getting loads of stick. But even in my game, the TV punditry world, Ian Wright dresses really cool. He always looks great and really cares about his clothes. Micah Richards dresses differently to Wright but again he really loves his fashion. I think generally footballers, we’re a vain lot so we all care what we look like.
Shop the look: Stone blazer, £99 here, Striped shirt, £45 here, Jeans, £28 here
You’re fronting a Next collection. What’s it like striking a pose instead of a ball?
I never expected to be a fashion model at the grand old age of 62. I’ve always loved clothes, fashion and shopping (well, not the shopping part so much), but it’s something really different and a lot of fun. It’s changed my thinking a little bit. One or two things that I said I’m not sure on, for example, white jeans – I’ve never really worn those but actually it looks good. I will definitely whip them out in Ibiza.
If you could go back and give yourself fashion advice, what would it have been?
Just go with your gut, go with your instinct and wear what you like and don’t worry about what other people think. That’s the key, not just not in fashion, I think, in life in general.
Shop the Gary Lineker edit at next.co.uk here
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