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Gary Lineker has revealed he suffered “pretty much racist abuse” during his childhood and football career as a result of his “darkish skin”.
The England icon made the comments during an interview on the latest edition of the High Performance Podcast, hosted by BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey.
Footballer-turned-broadcaster Lineker said he was targeted by the abuse both at school and during his playing days, though he did not name those responsible in the latter instance.
"Without being good at sport, life would have been very different for me,” he said.
"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."
Lineker is an England footballing great, sitting fourth on the list of all-time top goalscorers for his country with 48 strikes in 80 senior international appearances between 1984-92, famously winning the World Cup Golden Boot in Mexico in 1986 and also scoring four times en route to the semi-finals at Italia 90.
He began his club career at local side Leicester and later represented Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham before finishing at Japanese outfit Nagoya Grampus in 1994.
Since then Lineker has worked as a successful broadcaster, hosting English football’s flagship highlights programme Match of the Day on the BBC since 1999 and also formerly spearheading BT Sport’s coverage of the Champions League.