Former England hitman Gary Lineker appears to have changed his stance on how much licence the media has to comment on footballing matters.

That's after the BBC broadcaster's old comments on the British press were brought to light in the wake of his recent row with Harry Kane. Lineker, 63, has been vocal about his right to criticise Kane & Co. following a limp display in England's 1-1 draw against Denmark at Euro 2024.

The former Leicester City and Tottenham star - who scored 48 goals in 80 outings for England - said Gareth Southgate's side were "s***" in their second Group C fixture. That led to a robust defence from England captain Kane, who called on retired English pundits to "build the lads up with confidence" rather than pick them apart, especially given they know what they're going through.

It was more than 30 years ago, at the height of Lineker's own playing career, that he said much the same and slammed British journalists for their reporting around the 1990 World Cup. It was at Italia '90 England players shunned the British press following a lead that Bobby Robson was leaving for PSV Eindhoven, while the backdrop of Margaret Thatcher's attack on football made for a frosty rapport.

"We were certainly not speaking to them," said Lineker at the time. "Sports reporters can give an opinion and, three weeks later, be proved wrong and they can switch. Pundits and players can't do that because it gets bounced back to you. You get used to that.

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"But for us, it was the best atmosphere I'd known with England. The 1986 World Cup was good but this was even better. There were also the characters we had: Gazza [Paul Gascoigne], [Chris] Waddle, [Steve] McMahon — all great characters."

Having grown to used to having his opinion bounced back to him, Lineker may not be fazed by another confrontation. However, it also suggests his view on such matters has perhaps changed since he hung up his boots.

In response to Kane's retort, Lineker attempted to defend his comments by saying he - nor BBC colleagues Alan Shearer and Micah Richards - "want to be downbeat and critical." He also reminded listeners that he and his co-pundits noted England "could do better and it’s never personal," but that's likely scant consolation to the squad of today.

However, Kane's remarks suggest there's a better balance to be struck by Lineker and the likes. Few could argue England have played to their potential thus far in Germany, though there are perhaps more positive that could be taken as they stand on the verge of winning Group C - albeit not in the fanciful fashion they would have hoped.

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2024-06-24T13:23:18Z dg43tfdfdgfd