366 football tales | 18 February (1987)

Lineker scores four against the 'Quinta del Buitre'

Gary Lineker

Here in Spain the national football side is now seen as something that belongs to all of us, particularly since the victory at the Euros in Austria and Switzerland, but it’s not always been like that. The standard approach for the Spanish football fan, particularly Real Madrid and Barcelona followers, was to look at the national side from the point of view of their own team - only celebrating successes if they were down to players from their own club and taking certain satisfaction from defeats if players from their rivals could be blamed. Seen that way, which is how it was, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the Spanish side had so many years of continuous failure.

And that was the general feeling when Spain played England at the Santiago Bernabéu in a friendly in 1987. These were the outstanding years of Real Madrid's Quinta del Buitre (the Vulture's Cohort - that fine group of players with Emilio Butragueño at its heart) and they formed the core of the Spanish side together with a couple of other Real Madrid players. Facing them, the English attack was led by Gary Lineker, an outstandingly talented goalscorer. He was never a complete player, but was a slippery striker with an incredible goal-scoring instinct. And he played for Barça. Spain started on the front foot, with a goal from Butragueño (to which was later added one from Ramón, a fine striker from Sevilla badly affected by injury), but between the two Spanish goals Lineker, in unstoppable form, scored four; the final score a rout: 2-4.

‘Machine-gun Linker’ read the headlines the next morning, and there was a slight feeling of mockery from Barcelona followers: just one of their strikers had swept aside a team built on Real Madrid’s Quinta del Buitre, who had been completely shown up by the result. During the game Chendo, Gallego, Gordillo, Míchel, Sanchís (who came on as a substitute) and Butragueño all played. The Spanish coach was Miguel Muñoz, who had been part of the Madrid set up for years, as player then coach, and was still considered to be Madridista through and through. The stage had been the Santiago Bernabéu itself, the ancestral home of Real Madrid. The few fans who had turned out, just a few thousands, were mostly Real Madrid fans, except for around 500 very obviously English supporters, who had a wonderful time. The whole thing, in short, had a feeling of a defeat for Real Madrid as a club, thanks to the significant part they played in the whole disastrous affair: from the poor attendance to the result. In fact Real Madrid’s Dutch coach at the time, Leo Been Hakker, even had to defend himself in a press conference after the game: “It’ll be my fault, because there were so many Madrid players in the team…”

At least there was one consolation for the Real Madrid fans, or at least one possible response to the digs of the Barça followers: “The “Quinta” might have made up most of the team, but the keeper who let in four goals from Lineker was Barça’s: Zubizarreta”. Although mentioning the keeper wasn’t all positive for Real Madrid, because after Lineker’s third goal the few fans in the Bernabéu had started whistling and boo-ing him every time he touched the ball, particularly with every goal-kick he took…

Unstoppable Lineker. AS front page the day after...