Former England footballer and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker has claimed he suffered racial abuse as a child and as a player.
The 61-year-old, who is white, says that his ‘darkish skin’ meant that he was called racial slurs by both school pupils and prominent figures in the sports industry.
Lineker’s playing career saw him spend spells with clubs including Everton, FC Barcelona and hometown side Leicester City, and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year presenter claims that both his youth and playing days were plagued by racist abuse.
In a discussion about his early life, Lineker said that fellow school pupils had taunted him over the colour of his skin.
‘Without being good at sport, life would have been very different for me,’ Lineker told the High Performance Podcast, which was founded and 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 [treated] 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.’
The ‘English as they come’ phrasing drew criticism from some online who thought that Lineker was equating Englishness with whiteness.
Lineker also claimed to have suffered racist abuse in football, though he refused to name those he alleges used slurs against him.
‘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.’
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