Gary Lineker receives backlash after speaking out on racist abuse aimed at him during his school days and throughout his football career.
The former England international turned Match of the Day presenter, first heard the insults when he was a “tiny, geeky kid”.
But the 61-year-old claims it continued well into his professional career, from known figures in the sport, who he has refused to name.
Lineker also talked about the tough moments in his apprenticeship days with Leicester City, due to not reaching puberty until he was 17 years of age, which made for “embarrassing at times” in the dressing room.
Gary adds that he is “as English as they come” and discussed the prospect of a very different life without football.
“Without being good at sport, life would have been very different for me,” Lineker told the High Performance Podcast, which is co-hosted by BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey.
“Because I was, I think I would have been bullied at school, I was kind of marginally that way anyway because I was this tiny geeky kid, with darkish skin and I had pretty much racist abuse although I’m not, I’m as English as they come. All the time, all the time.
“Even in professional football I had that a couple of times, I wouldn’t ever name any names. So I got that kind of nonsense, which was a bit weird. Whether that was part of something that made me, I don’t know, but other people might not be able to handle that.”
He also said he never got nervous before a match, adding: “My greatest strength was not my right foot, it was my mental strength. I always had that. It never really got to me.”
Martin Daubney, the deputy leader of the Reclaim Party, branded him “one of the greatest wallies on the planet” before calling for him to “put one of his football socks in his gob” in a scathing GB News debate on Tuesday with hosts Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster listening on.
Holmes told viewers: “Gary said he was subjected to racist abuse during his footballing career – racist abuse – because he said he had darkish skin.
“It meant he was targeted in his own words for being as, ‘English as they come.'”
Daubney replied: “I thought Lineker was one of the greatest English footballers of all time, now I think he is one of the biggest wallies on the planet.
“He’s certainly one of the biggest wallies and plonkers on social media.”
He fumed: “Now Lineker is a man who has taken on every form of victimhood possible even when it is clearly ludicrous.”
“He did this via the Brexit referendum and climate change,” the politician added. “He lectures us on refugees and immigration.”
He later added: “I wish he would just put one of his football socks in his gob.”
Gary Lineker (1997)
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— Football Past (@thecentretunnel) June 22, 2022
Tom Goodenough of The Spectator wrote in his piece: “…Lineker, however, insists that he has never had it easy. In a podcast interview, the former England footballer says that he suffered racist abuse at school and during his career because of his ‘darkish skin’. It’s appalling if Lineker really was picked on for his skin colour, but it’s unclear why Lineker is telling us this now. ‘I wouldn’t ever name any names,’ he says of those who abused him. Why not? Should those who face similar unacceptable abuse do the same as Gary and keep schtum about their abusers? Surely if we are to kick racism out of football it’s better to name and shame the perpetrators.
“Lineker also claimed that, without football, he might have been picked on in the playground. As a ‘tiny, geeky kid’ in Leicester, Lineker told the High Performance Podcast his life wouldn’t have been so rosy: ‘Without being good at sport, life would have been very different for me because I think I would have been bullied at school.’
“The truth is that Lineker’s talent on the pitch means we will never know whether what he is saying is true. Yet whether he would have been targeted in the playground or not, hearing Lineker pose as a victim is a bit much.
“Lineker should think carefully about what message he is trying to send here. Are those poor kids who do get picked on in the playground meant to take solace from the fact that, without his talent, Lineker might have been one of them? If so, it’s hardly much reassurance for the chubby boy who isn’t good at football. Lineker seems to be telling such children: ‘Don’t worry, I almost know how you feel’.
“Lineker’s football career has earned him untold millions, adulation on the pitch, lucrative corporate deals, a post-football broadcasting job, a huge following on Twitter, a jet-set lifestyle and at least one beautiful house (as well as an environmentally-friendly electric Mini). Rather than focus on these ups though, Lineker wants to talk about the times where everything hasn’t gone right. On the podcast, he says:
“‘I don’t think you can really get to the top of something without really believing in yourself, and I did believe in myself. But I didn’t see myself on the same level as the other great players.’”
“Of course, if Lineker didn’t see himself on the ‘same level’ as other greats, that might have been with good reason. But whatever he really meant, Lineker’s words are revealing. He clearly sees himself in the pantheon of footballing idols, even though he has had more wives than World Cup wins.
“Yes, Lineker was a talented footballer whose greatest achievement was managing to avoid getting booked, but hearing him pose as a victim – or listening to his claims of imposter syndrome – are hard to take.”
Meanwhile, Nigel Farage said: Gary Lineker. Yes. Gary Lineker has said that he suffered pretty much racist abuse. I’m sorry. For his darkest skin when he was young. Yes. The Match of the Day host said that despite being as English as they come, he experienced abuse at the hands of school mates because he had darker skin than some of the rest of them.
“But I know, Gary, that you’re absolutely consumed by guilt in every way, but this is totally and utterly be ridiculous. And it might be better if you just said a little less in the future.”
As mentioned, Gary Lineker receives some backlash after speaking out on racist abuse aimed at him, see what was tweeted below…
@CS1312_: Absolute fruitloop.
@leeashford8: Lineker is slowly going down the Gary Neville root now. He’s got something to say on every matter and now this. This is a total insult to players that did suffer racist abuse. Lineker was the most priveliged player in that era. Complete England poster boy.
@Oscarbonzo1; God this irritation of a person really does love to be in the limelight. What a nause. Reminds me of the annoying kid at school (we all had one) who was always “me me me” It’s the Summer, no footy so have a day off and let us have one too 🙄
@BrewersFayre1: On a serious note though. @GaryLineker wtaf you on about here? I’ve read some nonsense in my time but this is wild
@ok_im_david: Gary Lineker trying to pull the race card is something I didn’t predict.
@PhilHannon: So is Gary Lineker now to be known as the fresh prince of bell end?
@BurnsideNotTosh: Just so you know if you point out that Gary Lineker is a gigantic turd smearing hypocritical user of aggressive tax mitigation schemes felching the licence fee payer while vomiting his unicorn cum all over the internet: you are a racist.
— 13 WIRES 🟡🟡🏴🏉 (@MarkMoore_2) June 21, 2022
— Liberal London (@Liberal_London_) June 22, 2022