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Lineker sure he would have won silverware had he stayed at Everton

07/06/2015  Comments (43)  jump
Gary Lineker feels that he might well have stayed at Everton were it not for the ban on English clubs in Europe following the Heysel tragedy and that he'd have won "lots of trophies" had he done so.

The ex-striker-turned-BBC-TV-presenter spent just one season at Goodison Park in the 1985-86 season scoring 40 goals in all competitions before being sold to Barcelona following his goalscoring exploits at the Mexico World Cup.

The Blues fell short of the double that season but Lineker believes he could have been part of a glittering team had it not fragmented as players and manager Howard Kendall alike left the club in search of Continental competition.

Maybe," he says in an interview for Four Four Two when asked if he'd have stayed were it not for the European ban. "Everton would perhaps have been in a better position to keep me. It was very much Howard [Kendall]'s decision to take the money.

When your club tells you they've accepted a bid, you take that as a sign you're not wanted. The opportunity to join a club like Barcelona comes along once in a lifetime, so I had to take it."

The 54 year-old doesn't agree with Kendall's assertion that Lineker's sale to Spain made sense because the team had become too direct as it tried to capitalise on his pace up front.

We were very unlucky not to win the title in the season I was at Everton and I think if I'd stayed we would still have won it in 1987. Every team needs a goalscorer; it dramatically enhances your chances if you have someone who can score 30 goals in a season.

That Everton team was unquestionably the best club side I played in."

We could easily have done "the double" in 1986. We finished second in the league, then lost the FA Cup Final. If I'd ended up staying there for three or four years rather than just the one, I'm sure I would have won lots of trophies.  

Reader Comments (43)

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Kelvin Thomas
1 Posted 07/06/2015 at 22:47:29
Not being able to kick on from that period has cost us big time!!
Ste Traverse
2 Posted 07/06/2015 at 22:53:30
IÂ’ve said for years Kendall was too hasty in selling Lineker. Him and Sharp would have got better and better as partnership had they stayed together.

Sharing a huge 64 goals between them in their only season says it all for me.

Joe O'Brien
4 Posted 07/06/2015 at 23:36:05
A massive chance missed by cashing in...
Nick Page
5 Posted 07/06/2015 at 23:09:12
Fellow blues, one only has to cast a glance across a park to see what we could have achieved but THEY ruined it for us. Lineker is right. Everything changed after 1985. But those vile cunts were happy and laughed in our faces as theyÂ’d created a legacy in a mere 20 years, so much so that they believe they fucking invented the game, think the "Mancs" are their biggest rivals and apparently always were, and hate Chelsea for being now. And they call us bitter.

It was a vile episode in football ironically ended by perhaps the biggest hypocrites in world football and the luckiest team IÂ’ve ever known in world football. Example; IÂ’ve argued with many Italians I know who think Juventus are a poxy shower but theyÂ’ve got nothing on that lot. In amongst that massive European "domination" (aka fluking it to finals against shite sides), Forest (!!!!!) won 2 ECÂ’s and Villa won 1. Lol. Never forget, Blues; we started that horrid club by mistake.

They stole the City emblem. Everything else they made up, and then claimed. They wanted it all. And us gone. Cos they deny the truth. But fuck it, IÂ’m glad IÂ’m a blue instead of some misguided glory hunter who canÂ’t remember their team was the dirtiest side anyone's ever seen but all the media gobshites love them. Billy fucking Liddel. They haven't even got a nickname ;-)

One day we will have our revenge.

Up the Toffees.

Colin Glassar
6 Posted 07/06/2015 at 23:38:34
No wonder he always looks like heÂ’s got a chip on his shoulder when he refers to us on MotD.
Gareth Fieldstead
7 Posted 07/06/2015 at 23:38:51
It really does make me laugh the way Liverpool fans and their apologists in the media moan about the impact losing their top scorer to Barcelona and their second top scorer hardly featuring last season. Same for us in 1986-87 yet we happened to win the league not get snotted by the likes of Palace and Stoke!
Ant Dwyer
8 Posted 07/06/2015 at 23:53:39
Typical of our current history, from those days to nowadays things have rapidly declined.
Nick Page
9 Posted 07/06/2015 at 23:52:37
Gareth, but they werenÂ’t banned for Europe were they? The filthy gets got one more year than everyone else after Heysel (the forgotten tragedy).
Colin Williams
10 Posted 08/06/2015 at 00:02:28
Nick #5... Well said!!! Top blue, luv your passion for our great club!! IÂ’ll second everything you said! Good lad!
Jason Lam
12 Posted 08/06/2015 at 02:46:41
I like Lineker but KendallÂ’s decision was ultimately vindicated.
Matt Traynor
13 Posted 08/06/2015 at 03:35:04
I was always lead to believe that Howard opposed the sale, and it was very much a board decision to cash in. It was that, in part, that made HK move to Bilbao (of all places) the following year after we won the league.

I know there were stories that he was promised the Barca job hence was happy to sell Lineker to them in advance, but IÂ’ve never really believed that one.

Mike Green
14 Posted 08/06/2015 at 08:08:22
"That Everton team was unquestionably the best club side I played in."

Say no more.

Terence Leong
15 Posted 08/06/2015 at 08:28:28
My thoughts:

Kendall was vindicated on the one hand, as he won the 1986-87 league.

Kendall did talk about how they were too one-dimensional because of Lineker, and itÂ’s interesting here that Lineker disagrees.

Given KendallÂ’s personality, he could have dictated the kind of tactics. I look at how Liverpool played, with another speedy goal machine (Rush) in their attack. They were less one-dimensional, and it served them well.

So in some ways, I am inclined to agree with Lineker that the club saw the money (they more than doubled the investment I believe) and they took it.

ItÂ’s always a hit and miss i.e. when you sell your best players, and whether thatÂ’s a good decision. Ball was sold for the same reason, though others felt that he was already on the downward slide.

I think the club stopped being forward thinking – both at the academy level where they allowed so many young talents to be snapped up by the Reds. Kendall, while flourishing again in 1987, never really bought any solid talents.

Harvey was given the chequebook by the club, so thatÂ’s something to give credit to the club for. However, it again shows how a good coach doesnÂ’t a good manager make.

I know a lot of fans give Lineker stick for not talking enough about Everton. But for only being around at Goodison for a season, he would have less to say than what he feels about Leicester, or Spurs. Yet, whenever he speaks about Everton and his time, he was always very sincere. In fact, in one of his interviews, he retorted that he doesnÂ’t seem to talk about Everton as much (when asked by journalists) is because whenever people ask him, he is seldom asked about his stint there. Though whenever he is asked, he would have only good things to say.

In fact, when I first read the news (back in the good old days of Shoot magazine) that he signed for Spurs back in 1989, I thought we missed a golden opportunity. And we did, as he went on to have at least another 3 to 4 productive seasons at Spurs.

Instead, we bought Cottee (promising) which didnÂ’t quite turn out as expected unfortunately.

Jakob Herd
16 Posted 08/06/2015 at 09:06:09
I personally hate the myth that we have failed as a club due to Heysel. We have failed as a club due to a lack of ambition and a long-term strategy. Heysel was a contributing factor but not the reason.

Everton should be like Arsenal, we used to be; but we are far from that now and.... it will take another 20 years with a solid plan in place for us to catch up.

As an optimist I believe the ground work was laid by Moyes and we are at the beginning of a climb upwards. What we need now is a manager with vision and a plan (like Wenger) and not someone who talks before his brain is engaged and seems to be incapable of saying anything that is remotely related to the truth.

David Hallwood
17 Posted 08/06/2015 at 10:10:45
Spot on Jakob (#16) Heysel is our Â’stab the backÂ’ theory, and itÂ’s a lack of a long-term strategy that has cost us; and donÂ’t forget that when the Premier League started we had won the league 5 years before, so we were still considered a big club.

Onto Lineker; I agree with Kendall that we changed our style to accommodate him and it eventually cost us, but the change of tactics was startling form the 1985, when everything went through our Roll-Royce midfield, to ball played in behind for Lineker to latch onto.

BTW donÂ’t forget when we sold him, we reverted to playing through the middle and won the league again.

At this point I feel as if I should break out into Â’The way we wereÂ’.

Rick Tarleton
18 Posted 08/06/2015 at 10:34:42
Excellently put, Jacob. We planned for the short term and lost so many players in order to make a quick buck. Steven, Stevens, Lineker, Van Den Hauwe etc. The Grantchester family were planning their exit and took the opportunity to liquidise their assets.
Mike Hughes
19 Posted 08/06/2015 at 10:35:47
Some good posts here – Nick #5 and Jakob #16

My opinion:

Heysel was a contributing factor in our decline and one of the main reasons I can’t stand the Redshite. (That aside, there are plenty of other reasons I loathe them – see last season’s ’Saturday Dilemma’ thread for reference). To say that it wasn’t a contributing factor is to ignore the foundation we had at that time of kicking on to be a real force in Europe. It was a potential breakthrough period in our history from which we failed to progress.

That we failed to progress is not entirely due to Heysel. We appear to lack a vision and corresponding strategy / tactics for success. That is, if we define success as winning trophies. As a club, survival in the top flight seems to be our mantra. There may be logistical reasons for that – finances among them – but we have become also-rans in the Sky era.

Our current barren period (almost 3 decades of it as a title contending force) bears comparison with the barren period of 1971-1983. We did not spend big to make the breakthrough to the 1984-1987 era (Lineker aside).

Finances aside, we live in hope that there is a vision, strategy, Plan A, B, C etc. But IÂ’m not holding my breath at the moment.

Steve Ferns
20 Posted 08/06/2015 at 11:06:36
Hysel is a myth, in terms of EvertonÂ’s demise. No doubt it sped things up but everyone seems to have forgotten the reality.

Everton were, as we all know, run and owned by the Mighty Sir John Moores. By the early 80s, Sir John was in dire health and so ceased to have much to do with us. Fortunately, heÂ’d put one of his best men, Sir Phillip Carter, at the helm and we were able to have one last glory period.

But letÂ’s not pretend that because Everton had glory on the pitch in that Golden era from 1984-1987, that all was well off it. Far from it, we were falling apart, we were hemorrhaging money, as all clubs were at this stage (the 80s had low attendances where most clubs failed to average over 20,000 and no real TV money). Sir John died and the Moores family had control of us, but the new head of the Family was David Moores who threw us to the wolves and used the family money to buy Liverpool FC. We were Moores-owned until agent Johnson stepped in. By this time, Sir Phillip had stepped down and we had a bloody GP running the club (Dr David Marsh).

So the real reason weÂ’re screwed is a combination of the death of Sir John, the lean financial rewards of the 80s, no real owner for over 10 years, Hysel, and the mere fact that we were a rudderless ship heading for nowhere.

DonÂ’t forget Sir Phillip was instrumental in setting up the Premier League as he saw it as a way of cementing EvertonÂ’s place in the big 5 (us, Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal and either Spurs or Forest depending on who you ask). It was thought that this restructuring would bring money to these big five clubs and it did, only we dropped off the runaway train.

Andrew Ellams
21 Posted 08/06/2015 at 11:27:12
We had some terrible luck with injuries to our younger players during the golden period too. Bracewell, Heath and Mountfield all would have been at the heartbeat of the team for a long time but were never the same after picking up bad injuries.
Paul Washington
22 Posted 08/06/2015 at 11:32:07
I spoke to HK at an Everton night in our local parish club, and he told me it was his decision alone to sell Lineker. Although it took a couple of months for him to get going, Lineker was excellent after Christmas that season.

If my memory serves me right didn't we beat Man City 4-0 in a night game at GP and the City fans were singing "You are the Champions!"

Alas, we can only speculate on what could have happened re Lineker, the Euro ban etc... but the spectacular short-sightedness of the board to me was the major contributor in our decline.

Heysel?.... Yes, it was a factor... God bless the 39.

Eric Myles
23 Posted 08/06/2015 at 11:06:13
Rick (#18), thatÂ’s a strange statement given the Grantchesters didnÂ’t actually Â’liquidate their assetsÂ’ until 9 years later, at a knock down price, and bought in many new players in the intervening years.
Gareth Fieldstead
24 Posted 08/06/2015 at 11:42:56
The Harvey years were responsible. He should never have become manager, poor buys and too many players like Sharp and Ratcliffe willing to undermine the new players and manager, creating a clique that culminated in us being Champions to bottom three in just 3 years.

ItÂ’s funny how LiverpoolÂ’s top players with the exception of Rush didnÂ’t feel the need to leave and at the time the wages were pretty similar to what Everton were paying.

Mike Hughes
26 Posted 08/06/2015 at 12:15:49
Steve (#20) – good points.

Gareth #24
A bit unfair / in hindsight blaming Colin Harvey.
I remember most Evertonians (at least in my circle) thinking he was the engine room of the Kendall era – and a natural successor.

I do recall some needle in the team – Sharp / Cottee and Sheedy / Keown – but as Steve (#20) highlights, it appeared to be something of a perfect storm for EFC at that time.

Roberto Birquet
27 Posted 08/06/2015 at 12:48:03
LinekerÂ’s arrival changed our style, and was among the reasons we lost the League. But mostly, it was the first few weeks in which the team had to adapt that left us behind. After that we absolutely dominated and cruised the League.

In the last ten games, Liverpool kept winning - similar to two seasons ago but without the Gerrard slip. But Everton were so far ahead, they shoulda won, but started panicking and it cost them. Panic lost us the League, not Lineker or Oxford bloody Utd.

WeÂ’d have won more had he stayed.

Heysel is a body blow we never recovered from. And even as a 14-year-old, I knew it then.

Peter Bell
28 Posted 08/06/2015 at 12:44:30
Never believe anything this joker says, he was only ever interested in one thing, and that was following the money.

In 1985, Everton were the best club side in England, Europe and voted World Team of the Year. And despite Everton's interest he was still trying to get his agent to get him a move to Man Utd (who we had battered 5-0 the previous season) because they paid the best wages.

The United board told Atkinson he could have the money for Lineker but he had to sell Stapleton first to raise most of the money. Stapleton removed to leave and the deal fell through. If it wasn't for Stapleton we would never have seen this twat in an Everton shirt.

He didn't care about us then and never did, so anyone wondering why he never talks about us, there is your answer.

Roberto Birquet
29 Posted 08/06/2015 at 12:58:48
Jakob (#16),

The world has fundamentally changed since Thatcher.

Economics is the main reason Everton has declined. Look at north London, then look at north Liverpool.

The former has boomed under Thatcherism. The Emirates is packed full of 60,000 middle class fans paying 㿲-80 for a ticket - and a long queue behind them pleading for a ticket, along with loads of corp sector bodies not interested in flying up to Liverpool and then head towards Sandhills.

Money buys success. ItÂ’s gonna be much harder for Everton to ever emulate Arsenal again.

Matt Williams
30 Posted 08/06/2015 at 13:07:51
Back in the early nineties, when Kendall was between jobs, I was at one of those question-and-answer things that ex-players and managers do from time to time, where he was the guest speaker.

I remember someone specifically asking him about the sale of Lineker. He catergorically stated that the only reason Lineker was sold was because he wanted to go to Barcelona and that he (Lineker) forced the issue. LinekerÂ’s departure had noting to do with him or the board.

Mike Keating
31 Posted 08/06/2015 at 13:24:53
Cottee wasnÂ’t a patch on Lineker but Trevor Steven was our biggest loss. Bracewell getting crippled by that psycho in zebra striped pyjamas was a close second.
Ste Traverse
32 Posted 08/06/2015 at 13:18:00
In my opinion, thereÂ’s a lot of history being re-written about LinekerÂ’s spell here. Not least the garbage his presence cost us the league due to Â’Route 1Â’ football.

With Sharp and Gray upfront for the majority of the previous season, we played direct football when required. We did the same in 1985-86 only exploited LinekerÂ’s pace instead, mixed in with classical Everton style football.

We lost the league due to the terrible run of injuries that dogged us that season losing many top players for long periods (not least Big Nev during the run-in), and because Liverpool went that huge run of winning games after we beat them at Anfield, and even then we went so so close.

No way will I ever say KendallÂ’s decision to sell was vindicated because we won the title the year after because would we really have declined as fast as we did had we kept this world-class striker? Probably not, in my opinion. His long term replacement was Tony Cottee... enough said.

It also makes me laugh when I hear the tedious old line that he never gives us a mention on MotD: 1) HeÂ’s a presenter not a pundit; 2) The bloke isnÂ’t an Evertonian, heÂ’s a self-confessed Leicester fan.

Steve Carse
33 Posted 08/06/2015 at 13:42:22
Acclaimed as the top European club in 1985. World Club of the Year 1985. A young side still well short of its peak.

Then banned from playing on the European and world stage for 5 years. Top players and manager lost.

Yet apparently according to some on here the ban was not responsible for EvertonÂ’s demise. Really???

Peter Bell
34 Posted 08/06/2015 at 14:16:33

Andy Gray also said he would have been happy to stay and be a squad player if we had the European Cup to go for.

The goal return of all the other players diminished when Lineker arrived, so how anyone can say it didn't affect the team is beyond comprehension. He hogged the limelight to the detriment of the overall team.

Andy Meighan
35 Posted 08/06/2015 at 15:07:31
Nick 5 got it spot on and I couldn’t disagree with anything he said there. As for Lineker, one greedy bastard, in my opinion. You’ve only got to look at him making a cunt of himself in them crisp adverts... the bellend. As for Heysel... well, as the banner said: "Others did the crime – we done the time." Enough said.
Andy Meighan
37 Posted 08/06/2015 at 16:07:46
Who can remember the Liverpool chairman at the time of the Heysel disaster being interviewed back then? And saying "Yes, yes, it's only right that all the English clubs should be banned from Europe, not just Liverpool."

Er.... excuse me but just what the fuck did we do to merit a ban at the time? And that goes for the other English clubs as well... and they wonder why IÂ’m bitter!

Roger Helm
38 Posted 08/06/2015 at 16:13:02
It is all about money. The clubs with the most money and biggest turnovers can buy the best players. Arsenal trouser ٠ million more than us every home game. Chelsea have now had over ٟ billion from Abramovitch. Man Utd have at least 5 or 6 times our income.

Smaller clubs can buck the trend for a period, but never in the long term.

Christy Ring
39 Posted 08/06/2015 at 16:15:05
I think the Heysel disaster was a huge turning point in the demise of our club and I believe we would have won the European Cup with the great team Howard built. I also think Lineker would have won the league with us but for Southall breaking his leg, he was worth 9/10pts, the best goalie in the world at the time, and Mimms wasnÂ’t in the same class.

Also, Howard leaving was because of the ban; we lost Trevor Steven and Gary Stevens, Bracewell was never the same after that kamikaze tackle from the gobshite Whitehurst and Harvey was out of his depth. Do you honestly think Kendall would have signed Cottee, Nevin and McDonald??? We went backwards after that, so I firmly believe that Heysel was a huge turning point in the history of Everton.

Brian Wilkinson
40 Posted 08/06/2015 at 16:51:17
Losing Big Nev to a potsy Landsdown Road pitch was the turning point of us losing the double in 86, not Lineker forgetting his boots at Oxford, or Sharp missing a sitter from a couple of yards out at Forest the previous week.

Mimms had a decent goals conceded but pretty certain had Southall not picked up his injury, we would not've slipped up in the league or the FA Cup, just my opinion.

Maybe then we may have resisted selling Lineker, but Heysel was definitely the turning point in our demise.

David Graves
41 Posted 08/06/2015 at 17:14:03
If you really want to ruin your night, get on YouTube to watch the highlights of the Cup WinnerÂ’s Cup Final. At 2-0 the late great Brian Clough says "TheyÂ’ve got a superb young manager, theyÂ’ve got a superb young team and I am of the opinion that they will be a force for many a year."

Heysel contributed but then isnÂ’t the history of Everton all about missed opportunities?

Peter Laing
42 Posted 08/06/2015 at 17:56:03
It broke my heart to lose a striker that had notched 40 goals and walked away with the golden boot following his World Cup exploits. The sale of Lineker on the back of the Heysel disaster was the beginning of the end for Everton.

It is too simplistic to suggest that Kendall / the board were vindicated by selling Lineker given that we won the title in 1987; that was the last time that we won it and the team of 1985 going into 1988 was nothing in comparison.

Ray Roche
43 Posted 08/06/2015 at 18:15:27
Quick note, the season before Lineker arrived we scored 88 goals as Champions, then 87 goals with Lineker and 76 as Champions again. Just saying.
The biggest single incident or reason for EvertonÂ’s fall is Heysel. True, piss poor management at the top hasnÂ’t helped since, but would these bums be involved with Everton if we had been able to capitalise on our success and become a top European club? And not seen our manager and better players leave? Look at the RS, when Shankly arrived they were a joke club, but with a good, passionate manager they found success and continuity allowed them to become a famous name here and abroad. We were denied that chance to spread our name across Europe and also the chance to win the biggest prize. And this led to the break up of our squad and the manager jumping ship to enjoy European football. ( As for Kendall saying that Lineker was responsible for leaving Everton IÂ’d take Linekers word first. And he also says we were the best side by far that he played for, including Barca) LiverpoolÂ’s last Championship was 3 or four seasons after ours, but theyÂ’ve managed to keep their status as a top club due to their continuity, something we didnÂ’t/couldnÂ’t.

LetÂ’s leave the re-writing of history to the RS.

Paul Ellam
44 Posted 08/06/2015 at 21:11:59
Without any doubt in my mind, I think we would have won more trophies with Lineker in our team.

Other first team players leaving as well for European football left us in tatters really. We needed to keep them and add to the team. I was gutted he never came back to us and chose Spurs instead.

Jakob Herd
46 Posted 09/06/2015 at 08:05:12
Roberto Birquet #29

Roberto; why I refer to Arsenal and not Man United, Liverpool, Man City or Chelsea (the other clubs winning trophies and/or with large support) is that Arsenal have not been the result of an instant buyout with the sudden influx of capital it brings. Arsenal have been managed properly for the last 30 years and are today the result of prudent management with a long term goal. Arsenal as a result are an international brand and Everton are not.

I am aware of the demographic and economic shift since the the eighties but your argument reads as if there is no chance; solely due to this reason. When you look at who has won the Premier League since its inception; it's three to two in favour of the North West.

Everton were similar to Arsenal until we went through a long period of mismanagement with extraneous factors; Steve Ferns (#20) sums this up well.

We can regain some of the ground lost in the last 25 years, we just need a board with foresight, ambition and a plan. A manager that will implement that plan, develop, scout and recruit players than can follow that plan. Football is a business; this is how a business operates, Arsenal operate a good business model; let's copy it.

Mark Evans
47 Posted 15/06/2015 at 18:23:12
I believe the signing of Lineker strengthened our team. Before he joined the only thing we missed was a striker who could put away the half chances. He filled that gap and developed into a top class forward. We should have won the double that year and only a phenomenal run from Liverpool after we beat them at Anfield denied us the league. Losing the Cup to them after we dominated the first hour of the game only rubbed salt into the wounds.Unfortunately Heysel and the subsequent European ban prevented us from competing on EuropeÂ’s top stage and ultimately led to the breakup of a team that undoubtably would gone on to win more domestic and European trophies. Lineker would have been part of that team.
Patrick Murphy
48 Posted 15/06/2015 at 19:00:36
Man Utd produce Beckham and the team of all talents then a club are involved in disgraceful scenes and people die, all clubs are banned including Man Utd – would they have been able to cope with such a ban? Would those young players have stayed at United if European football was a no go? Of course not to both questions.

ItÂ’s not about what Everton didnÂ’t do in the immediate post-Heysel period; itÂ’s all about what they couldnÂ’t do, ie, lift the European Cup or at least have a go at it. A fortnight after our only European triumph and a few weeks/months following our most successful season, all the glory and opportunities disappeared through no fault of our own.

Even at the start of the 1985-86 campaign, there was no TV coverage due to the inability to strike a deal between the TV companies and the football authorities – pretty useful for the club from across the park as they didn’t have to endure the constant reference of Everton being called Champions on TV or have any difficult questions raised as to the fairness of the ban.

Bitter? You bet I am. I went home and away for 10 years before we saw that great team of 1985 and during that 10 years, I had to endure grief from the other lot as they kept winning trophies whilst we failed at the final hurdles. But, for the first time in my watching, we had a very very good team and it would only have got better if it had been able to play on the European stage.

But now, I have to endure "plucky little Everton" and "be careful what you wish for" and "top six is about our limit". I hate football sometimes but, for the younger generation, I hope you get to see a proper Everton team that tears apart the opposition because itÂ’s been too long since weÂ’ve seen that at Goodison.

Lineker had a good season but I agree with those that said we went too direct and his bad night at Oxford United lost us the Title, the team became too ready to look for Lineker rather than create opportunities for the rest of the team. Best goal of LinekerÂ’s was against Luton Town at Goodison in the cup replay.

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