Football News

El Clasico: Gary Lineker looks back on his Barcelona hat-trick against Real Madrid in 1987

By Squawka News

Published: 16:34, 18 March 2022 | Updated: 9:56, 22 March 2022

El Clasico takes centre stage this weekend in La Liga as leaders Real Madrid host Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are ten points clear of second-placed Sevilla going into matchday 29, with Barca some 15 points adrift of their Madrid rivals ahead of Sunday’s showpiece.

While current form, and home advantage, is against Barcelona (they have not won at the Bernabeu since 2019) they have the edge historically over Real Madrid in this fixture, having won 115 of their 281 meetings, with Madrid holding 104 to their name.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona: Predictions

Bet Prediction Best odds
BTTS? Yes 4/7 with Bet365
Correct score 2-2 23/2 with SBK
First Goalscorer Karim Benzema 7/2 with Bet365
Odds correct at the time of writing. 18+ Only. Terms and Conditions Apply. BeGambleAware.

One of those memorable victories came in 1987, when England striker Gary Lineker – playing in only his second Clasico – scored a hat-trick as Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-2 at Camp Nou.

The performance not only cemented Lineker’s place in Barcelona folklore, but also among El Clasico legends.

“The Clasico is something really special…” he told LaLiga TV. “The first time I played in a Clasico at Camp Nou was in early 1987, and I didn’t really know what to expect, from the atmosphere. But it was incredible. I’ve never known anything like it.”

“I scored two goals in the first five minutes, and the noise… the crescendo in Camp Nou was just something that I’ll never, ever forget. I had goosebumps all over my body when I scored the second goal because the place was going crazy.”

But he wouldn’t stop there. Lineker, affectionally nicknamed El Matador by the Barcelona fans, would complete his hat-trick in the second half after capitalising on a mistake by Real Madrid right-back Chendo.

“Just after half-time [Andoni] Zubizarreta hit a long ball, their defender [Chendo] made a mistake, and I had a one-on-one… I think [Paco] Buyo was in goal,” Lineker recalled.

“I saw him coming out, and I just did a little dink over the top of him and is was going in I thought ‘It’s going in… I’ve scored a hat-trick in a Clasico… in my first proper home Clasico…’ and I just couldn’t believe what was happening.

“And then of course Madrid came back and they scored two goals! We were winning 3-2 with… I don’t know how many minutes left… and all I was thinking was “please don’t score another one… please don’t score another… please don’t score a hat-trick in a Clasico and not win the game!”.

“But it’s a match I’ll never forget. It’s a match that, every year, I see the goals are played at the time, ‘on this day thirty years ago he scored a hat-trick’. And I’ll never tire of watching it because it was one of the most special moments of my life.”

Lineker joined Barcelona from English side Everton for £2.8million in 1986 – Barca’s second-highest transfer fee at that time behind a certain Diego Maradona. He had just won the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, and moved to Spain to work under English head coach Terry Venables.

“My decision to move to Spain was really one of… the fact that it was Barcelona who came for me,” reflected Lineker. “If one of the giants of world football comes for you then it’s very difficult to say ‘no’.

“The opportunity to live in a different county, to experience a different kind of football, to educate myself on the field and off the field, the opportunity to learn another language… and to try something new and exciting. So there were all sorts of reasons but the main one obviously was that it’s Barcelona Football Club. You don’t say no.”

He would stay there for three seasons, scoring 52 goals in 138 matches (a goal every 2.6 games). He would help the Catalan side win the Copa de Rey (1987-1988) and the European Cup Winners’ Cup (1988-89) before returning to England in 1989 with a move to Tottenham that reunited him with Venables.

“I had a fantastic three years with Barcelona… half a lifetime ago, over half my lifetime ago… over thirty years now since I left but it’s a memory that’s always stayed with me. A wonderful experience, a great football club, a slightly crazy place at times – as it still is! – but an experience I’ll never forget.

“I had such a great affinity with the Barcelona supporters. As well as the football side of things, which went really well, particularly the first two seasons… the last season not so much. But the people of Barcelona were always so wonderful to me and that’s always stuck in my heart.”