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money talks Gary Lineker's admiration for young stars like Marcus Rashford as he admits BBC salary is 'hard to justify'

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Gary Lineker (BBC/PA)

Gary Lineker (BBC/PA)

Gary Lineker (BBC/PA)

An audience with Gary Lineker never fails to disappoint and so it proved as Melissa Reddy quizzed the former England captain turned BBC Match of the Day host in the latest episode of her podcast series, Between The Lines.

Lineker is an open book when he sits down for an interview and he gave his views on a host of topics that included Marcus Rashford's emergence as a powerful voice for under-privileged children, why he would not enjoy being a player in the modern game and his oft-discussed BBC salary.

Rashford's campaign to ensure children receive free meals in their school holidays has attracted widespread support in the UK and Lineker was quick to salute the Manchester United forward for his efforts.

"I'm really proud of some of our young footballers for the way they've spoken out about certain causes," stated Lineker. "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.

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Raheem Sterling is doing his bit to help out (Alex Livesey/PA)

Raheem Sterling is doing his bit to help out (Alex Livesey/PA)

Raheem Sterling is doing his bit to help out (Alex Livesey/PA)

"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 โ€“ we do expect a lot of them."

Lineker went on to suggest he would not have relished the chance to play the game in the modern era, when social media has become such a prominent part of the narrative.

"I wouldn't have particularly enjoyed, I don't think, being involved with social media if I was a player now because of that negativity that's around it," he continued.

"That's why I'm pretty supportive and rarely critical of footballers' performances. I've been there, I know how difficult it is, I know how good they are. They are so good. You can tweet something really, really complimentary about a really brilliant player, and underneath it, still get people that have no idea whatsoever how good these people are having a pop at them. So I'm quite supportive of footballers."

Lineker was also asked about his BBC salary, which has attracted negative attention down the years and inspired him to accept a 23% pay-cut on his ยฃ1.75m salary earlier this year.

"It's hard for me to justify a salary for what I do, but football is a global business, I've been lucky enough to be involved in it on both sides, it's very competitive, particularly in the TV world as well," he added.

"There are not many footballers that have gone on to presenting. I've got a niche in that, and obviously I know that I've had offers where I could have gone elsewhere for more, but I don't want to try and plead holier than thou, and stuff.

"So I get it, it's understandable, it's a bit of ammunition to fire at me on occasions. I totally recognise how fortunate I am, but I'm not going to sit here talking to you now and say that I deserve getting more than one of the nurses that's been on the front line. No I don't, no, I know that. I'm just very lucky to be in the business I am.

โ€œI had a bit of criticism in Parliament from Jacob Rees Mogg about it the other day โ€“ I mean, this guy has got his companies based off-shore, he's worth hundreds of millions. The hypocrisy is quite baffling, but you kind of get accustomed to that.

"It's a difficult one, but I try and do my bit with it as well and help a few people and help a few causes along the way. But I'm not going to sit here and argue and try and justify my salary, I can't, I'm just lucky.โ€

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW NOW IN THE LATEST EPISODE OF 'BETWEEN THE LINES WITH MELISSA REDDY' - AVAILABLE HERE.

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