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Gary Lineker opens up about housing a refugee and explains why he did it

Footballer legend and presenter Gary Lineker has opened up to Piers and Susanna about inviting a refugee into his home.

"I hosted a refugee… every time I ever tweeted any kind of support towards these poor refugees and their dreadful plight, having to flee their countries and we all know the desperate circumstances, and there were deaths in the channel last week, I used to always get, ‘Well why don’t you have them in your home?’. Which was kind of a strange thing to say because is that what they were worried about? People coming to live in their home, of course not," he said.

"The more I thought about it, the kids are all grown up now, I have a bit of space… it all carried on again and under one of the tweets someone actually posted, ‘Well, Gary you might be interested in this’. And it’s a link to a charity, Refugees at Home, which gives aid to refugees. There are different ones you can use, you can have a long term one, a middle term or an emergency service, which is almost like emergency fostering, which is the box that I ticked.”

Gary explained how he went through the screening process before Rasheed came to stay with him for a total of three weeks.

At the end of his stay, he wrote the star a moving letter to thank him for his assistance. Recalling the kind gesture from Rasheed, Gary continued: “It was a beautifully written letter, for a start, actually it did make me emotional. He gave it to me when he left, along with a bunch of flowers. He was a lovely guy, honestly, it was a brilliant experience. He was very sweet and charming. He cooked for me and I cooked for him lots, which I like to do. He was great for my boys, they spent a bit of time in his company. [He] actually cooked for them one night when I was working, to share his experiences and he gave them such a great perspective on life. Because honestly, my boys are privileged… One of them said to me, ‘It’s been so good to have Rasheed here’… they learnt so much about what life is like for so many.”

 On what refugees bring to this country, Gary added: “The truth is that immigrants to this country or refugees, whatever you want to call them, do eventually contribute so much to our society… Imagine if it happened here and we were suddenly bombed or there was some desperate regime.  Imagine what it takes to want to leave your country to find a home somewhere else and safety.”

 He added Rasheed wanted to now study law.

 During the interview, Gary also spoke about the new social media guidelines that have been put in place at the BBC and on the news that Sir Bobby Charlton is living with dementia.

Asked about the new social media guidelines at the BBC, Gary said: "I really don’t see them as much different. Because we’ve all known on the BBC that we try and avoid having a preference on party politics. I think there is a way of doing that and I’ve had conversations with Tim [Davie] and he’s been perfectly happy with the way my social media is. So, I don’t really see there’s any significant change… they have obviously been attributable to people who work in news or current affairs. That has kind of spread out a little bit, but I am fairly confident that I tweet sensibly and I will continue to do so."

On Sir Bobby Charlton’s recent dementia news, he added: “My colleague Alan Shearer did a documentary about that very topic. I think it’s very disconcerting, the percentage figures of former footballers who get dementia diseases… is a lot greater than the general public… so there probably is a connection. We all know balls used to be heavy, they were heavier in my time than they are now. I think all footballers are concerned about it, we have to be.”

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