Gary Lineker was on verge of tears over two England moments that reminded him of heartache

Gary Lineker explained why his emotions got the better of him (Image: YouTube/The Rest Is Football)

Gary Lineker admitted two of England’s penalty takers almost moved him to tears. The Three Lions emerged victorious over Switzerland in their Euro 2024 quarter-final after scoring all five spot kicks.

Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold produced the goods from 12 yards, while Jordan Pickford denied Manuel Akanji for a 5-3 victory. It was the third and fifth efforts from Saka and Alexander-Arnold which were particularly poignant for Lineker.

“I was so pleased. I did actually, watching it, get a little bit emotional,” he revealed on The Rest Is Football podcast. His co-host and Match of the Day colleague Micah Richards added: “You was tearing up a little.”

Explaining first why Saka’s penalty struck a chord with him, Lineker recalled the similar redemption story of former England team-mate Stuart Pearce. He continued: “Yeah, I’m a softy – I never used to be, I was really cold as a player.

“It reminded me so much of the Stuart Pearce moment. Stuart Pearce missed in 1990 when I played. He’s such a diamond of a bloke and a wonderful footballer. And then we played against Spain, penalty shootout in Euro 1996 and he stepped forward again.

“I was in the crowd and I was thinking ‘please, please score, don’t miss’. And everybody in the crowd was the same. There was a silence that was palpable. And when he knocked that in – I cried on that occasion, I was sitting in the crowd, crying tears of joy.

Bukayo Saka and Trent Alexander-Arnold had Lineker tearing up (Image: Getty)

“I don’t actually cry when I’m sad, I cry when I’m happy. And it reminded me of that. He (Saka) took the penalty that basically lost us the Euros. To come back from that, a young lad.

“Having scored also an absolutely brilliant goal to drag us level almost immediately after the substitutions, what a goal by the way. And then the penalty goes right. He’s amazing.”

There was a different reason for his teary eyes as Alexander-Arnold stepped up to convert the winning pen. “And the other time that I actually welled up a little bit was with Trent, because I feel for Trent in this tournament,” Lineker went on.

“I think he was a bit hung out to dry a little bit because he’s been suddenly put into that central midfield position. But he was put in when the team was a bit disjointed. It wasn’t cohesive, they were all over the place, and everyone’s blaming Trent.

“And then he (Gareth Southgate) takes him off, and I just thought ‘that’s not fair’. And then I was so pleased for him that A, he came on, and then to score the winning penalty. He’s such an unbelievably brilliant footballer.”

Despite the question marks about Gareth Southgate’s tactics persisting, his side are now gearing up for their third semi-final in the last four major tournaments. The Netherlands on Wednesday will, however, present a much sterner test than the five nations they’ve faced in Germany so far.