Gary Lineker is full of admiration for the efforts of footballers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The likes of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling have used their platforms to highlight issues that go way beyond football during a period that has tested everyone up and down the country.
Those efforts come despite suggestions from senior government ministers earlier in the pandemic that footballers weren’t doing enough.
Speaking exclusively on the subject on Between The Lines, a podcast hosted by The Independent’s Melissa Reddy, Lineker opened up on just how impressed he has been.
“I think it’s great, and I’m really proud of some of our young footballers for the way they’ve spoken out about certain causes,” he said. "Whether it’s been racism, where, you know, a lot of players have got together and helped things. Raheem Sterling, in particular, Wes Morgan, Troy Deeney, and others. And then you’ve got what Marcus Rashford has done for example, in terms of feeding our poorest children. What a wonderful example he’s set.
“You’ve got to remember as well that these are very young men, footballers are young men. I’ve got four young men as sons, and by and large, they’re very daft most of the time, and maturity comes late. We expect a lot of our young footballers. I’ve got four kids all in their twenties now, and they can live their lives and have fun and go out.
"For footballers, it’s different. Now, obviously, they’re very well compensated, we all know that they earn vast sums of money, which almost makes them an easy target. We saw it at the beginning of the pandemic didn’t we, where the government had a pop and said ‘the footballers have got to do something’, and they already were getting together to do something.
"They’ve been brilliant throughout this crisis, and I think some of them have been really impressive, especially when you consider their ages. Yes a few of them have made mistakes during lockdown and done things they shouldn’t have done.
"Obviously a couple of young kids with England a couple of weeks ago made a silly mistake, but they’ll learn from it, and they’re so much in the spotlight, it’s not easy, especially when you’re growing up – we do expect a lot of them.”
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