‘We owe a lot to refugees’: Football ace Gary Lineker reveals he will let a stranger live in his mansion to boost campaign
Ex-England striker Gary Lineker, who is known for his controversial left-wing views on social media, will welcome a refugee to his luxury home in response to “so intolerably sad” images of people dying in attempts to reach the UK.
Revered former forward Lineker admitted he did not know who will be staying at his palatial pad or what nationality they will be, but the figurehead of football on the BBC and BT Sport insisted he has no qualms about offering a young man refuge at his swanky Surrey hideaway, which is said to be worth more than $5.2 million.
Ruing the fierce arguments and abuse he is subject to on a daily basis in return for offering his forthright political views on Twitter, the outspoken 59-year-old backed a campaign to raise awareness of the contribution made by refugees in a video explaining how the English favorite of fish and chips has been shaped by foreigners and non-British culture.
“I have had so much connection with refugees over the last couple of years,” the former World Cup star told the Mirror. “Most of the things we think of as quintessentially British are often brought in from different shores. Even [patron saint] St George is Turkish.”
“I just think we owe a lot to refugees and most people are descended from refugees at some point. They have given so much to this country and still continue to do so in terms of the jobs they do which we have witnessed during the pandemic in the NHS, carers and key workers.”
Lineker began campaigning in support of refugees after Syrian boy Alan Kurdi drowned off Greece in 2015 and said he was deeply saddened by the recent death of a Sudanese man in the Channel as boatloads of refugees desperately tried to reach the British coast.
“It was seeing the images of what was happening when they were going in the boats and landing in Greece, seeing families dying,” he reflected. “It just struck me as so intolerably sad.
I just thought we were going against them with front pages with all this anti-refugee propaganda. I thought, ‘put yourself in their shoes.’
Imagine if it was London that was being bombed and we had to flee somewhere and nobody would accept you, and nobody would want us and everyone would hate you.”
The ex-Tottenham hero is regularly accused of virtue signaling and wokeness on Twitter, where not all of his following of more than 7.6 million are entirely in favor of his contentious views.
“We have become so tribal, it’s almost more tribal than football is,” he warned. “That’s a worry, so whenever I’m in a debate I try not to be nasty. I don’t understand why if someone has a different opinion you have to fall out.
I have met scores of young refugees through football schemes and they are genuinely lovely kids and they appreciate any help they can get. My kids are all grown up so I’ve got plenty of room so if I can help on a temporary basis then I’m more than happy to do so. Why not?
I’m used to young men in my house, I have four lads in their 20s and believe you me, I’m sure they will behave better than my lot do. Bloody messy buggers, boys, aren’t they?”
The person who will stay with the multimillionaire will be interviewed and visited by a charity that has helped to secure temporary accommodation for more than 2,250 refugees and asylum seekers.
Lineker said he was not apprehensive about the situation. “I’m sure it will be fine,” he explained. “I have been thinking of doing something like this for a while.”
As a celebrity routinely told to “stick to football,” Lineker offered praise to Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford for the 22-year-old's public attempts to persuade the UK government to take steps to end poverty.
“We have got a young generation that seem to be full of empathy and social conscience,” he said. “That’s great. Their maturity has been extraordinary.
Hats off to them. When you stand up for things in public, as they have done, that brings a pressure to your game because you then have to make sure you play well. Otherwise people will be on your back saying, ‘He doesn’t concentrate on football.’”