“Suffered that harassment a couple of times”- Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker opens up on facing racism in professional football

The former England forward who played for Barcelona has spoken out about how he suffered racial abuse during his playing career.

Gary Lineker Barcelona racism

Gary Lineker claims he has faced ‘racist abuse’ from fellow footballers because of his ‘darkish skin’. The insults were first heard by former England and Tottenham striker, now a Match of the Day presenter, when he was a ‘tiny, geeky kid’. However, the 61-year-old claims it continued throughout his professional career, from well-known figures in the sport whom he refused to name.

Lineker also discussed difficult times during his early days with Leicester, including not reaching puberty until he was 17 years old, which made for  “embarrassing moments at times” in the dressing room. Lineker also maintains that he is “as English as they come” and has discussed the possibility of a life without football.

“Without being good at sport, life would have been very different for me,” Lineker told the High-Performance Podcast. “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 added.

Read More: Bernardo Silva to play his future club : FC Barcelona and Manchester City to play a fundraiser match for ALS

England’s record goalscorer at World Cup Gary Lineker’s time at Barcelona

Gary Lineker Barcelona racism
"Suffered that harassment a couple of times"- Former Barcelona striker Gary Lineker opens up on facing racism in professional football 2

After shining at the 1986 World Cup with England, FC Barcelona liked what they saw and pounced for Lineker with a £2.8 million transfer fee, the second-highest in football history at the time, behind only Maradona’s move from FC Barcelona to Napoli. He became the first Englishman to play for the club’s first team since the 1920s, and nobody else has since.

The striker hit the ground running, scoring twice on his debut against Racing Santander, and reaching a total of 20 goals in 41 top-flight appearances in his first season. Three of which came in the thrilling 3-2 El Clasico triumph, against Real Madrid, in January 1987. He also won the Copa del Rey in 1988 and the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1989, earning himself the nickname El Matador along the way.

Lineker was the top-scoring British player in La Liga with 42 goals in 103 top-flight appearances before he was eventually surpassed by Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale in 2016.

Read More: “Expecting to see him in training”- Bayern Munich President believes Robert Lewandowski will continue in Germany amidst Barcelona rumours