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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 April 2006, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Gary Lineker and wife to separate
Michelle and Gary Lineker
The Linekers are to split after 20 years of marriage
Football pundit Gary Lineker and his wife Michelle have announced they are to separate after 20 years of marriage.

The childhood sweethearts have "grown apart" during the last 12 months and reached an "amicable agreement" to split, a spokesman for the couple said.

The announcement came as a surprise as the former England star was widely thought to have a strong marriage.

The Linekers' spokesman insisted that "no-one else" was involved with their decision to file for divorce.

Glittering career

Lineker, 45, is England's second-highest goal-scorer with 48 strikes in 80 appearances for his country.

He also enjoyed a highly successful club career, with teams including Leicester City, Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur.

Lineker became the main face of football on BBC TV after he took over the presenting of Match of the Day from Des Lynam.

Michelle Lineker, 40, is a former beauty therapist.

Separate lives

In a statement issued on behalf of the Linekers, their spokesman said: "We can confirm that Gary and Michelle Lineker have commenced divorce proceedings.

"Sadly, they have grown apart over the last year or so and led increasingly separate lives with separate interests.

"There is no-one else involved and never has been. It is an amicable agreement and Gary and Michelle will remain good friends."

The spokesman said the Linekers were discussing their future living arrangements but gave no details of who would continue to live in the couple's Surrey mansion.

They met in Leicester, where their parents ran side-by-side market stalls.

The couple overcame a major crisis together when their oldest son, George, fell ill with leukaemia in 1991. He later made a full recovery.

They have three other sons: Harry, 12, Tobias, 10, and Angus, eight.

Lineker earned a squeaky clean image on the football pitch as he was never booked - let alone sent off - during his 17-year club career.

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