Had you asked us last week what we thought of Gary Lineker, we would have said he was a certified national treasure. Beloved by fans of Leicester City, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, scorer of 48 goals for England, member of Sir Bobby Robson's valiant Italia '90 squad, he is a footballing icon and goalscoring hero to thirtysomething former children everywhere. Now host of the nation's favourite highlights show, Match of the Day, he is a beacon of easy affability, a teflon television personality with a heart of gold and a natural aversion to scandal and controversy. That mirrors his long and illustrious career in which, as a symbol of sportsmanship and all-round 'nice bloke', he was famously never sent off, or even booked.
Had you asked us last week what we thought of Gary Lineker, we might even have gone as far to say he was an emblem of Britishness. Judging by the endorsements that swirl so lightly and gracefully around him, it's easy to imagine Lineker living exclusively on a diet of fizzy lager, Walkers Crisps and more Walkers Crisps, like the living embodiment of a carpeted pub. He seems good humoured, easy-going and self-effacing, even in the face of the hundreds of people who send him 'shat on' tweets on a daily basis. Bashfulness and self-deprecation are good, honest British traits, and make Lineker the universal British everyman that he is.
Or at least, he was a universal British everyman. Now, we are sorry to report, he is a jug-eared, left-leaning, luvvie former England legend, because he has expressed some compassion for refugees. That's according to The Sun, of course, who have reminded Lineker of what proper British values look like by joylessly castigating him for his personal opinions and essentially calling for him to be sacked for disagreeing with them. This is what Britain is actually about Gary, you bastard: calling for people to be fired from their jobs over a difference of perspective, and using said difference in a thinly veiled attack on that most reviled of national institutions, the BBC.
Having done nothing but impeccable journalism for the entirety of its print history, The Sun can fairly claim to be Britain's moral compass on this issue. Gary Lineker now joins Lily Allen and co. in a select group of champagne socialists and leftie luvvies – in other words famous people who dare to disagree with The Sun – who are trying to ruin this country by showing common decency, empathy and basic humanity in their response to Europe's refugee crisis, as opposed to suggesting the lot of them are cockroaches and that gunboats should be turned on them forthwith. Lineker and his ilk have given their honest opinion on the issue, have tried to treat their fellow man with dignity, and have shown that there are still plenty of Brits who are willing to swim against the populist tide and expose themselves to vicious personal attack as a consequence. What's more, they're refusing to apologise for any of it. Have. They. No. Shame.
"Lineker refused to admit his error last night. His spokesman told The Sun: 'He won't be commenting, especially not to you.'"
– The Sun, 20/10/2016