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Gary Lineker Explains Why Paul McGrath Was Perhaps His Toughest Opponent

Gary Lineker Explains Why Paul McGrath Was Perhaps His Toughest Opponent
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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At his peak, there were few goalscorers in world football that were more prolific than Gary Lineker.

The Englishman had a remarkable knack of being in the right place at the right time in the opposition penalty area, something that allowed him to rack up a huge number of goals over the course of his career.

He was the epitome of a poacher, operating between the two posts and not really attempting to get into physical battles with opposition centre backs. In saying that, there was one player in particular he used to hate coming up against.

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Gary Lineker names Paul McGrath as his toughest opponent


Speaking on the Rest is Football podcast this week, Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker were discussing what centre backs they used to hate playing against during their playing careers. For Lineker, the answer was a certain Irish defender.

I used to hate playing against Paul McGrath. He was quick, and strong and aggressive. He was tough to play against.

I much preferred it against your quintessential, big, tough, centre half, rather than a small quicker one. Paul McGrath wasn't small, but he was rapid.

Paul McGrath was one of the most gifted players of his generation, with even his chronic injury issues not slowing him down on the pitch.

He was a physical specimen, being both incredibly strong and very quick. As well as that, his defensive intelligence meant that he was always in the right position to cut out opposition attacks.

Quite a few of his performances for Ireland have gone down as the finest we have ever seen in a green jersey.


When you couple that with his success at both Manchester United and Aston Villa, it is little wonder that the likes of Gary Lineker used to hate the thought of lining up against him.

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