Saturday, 21 Sep 2019

Gary Lineker’s son attacked by 60 football fans during pitch invasion riot

Gary Lineker has revealed how his son was brutally attacked by around 60 football fans during a riot – "nearly losing his life".

The former England striker, 58, said budding film-maker Harry, 25, was set upon by thugs during a pitch invasion as he was filming a World Cup qualifier between Sierra Leone and Liberia on Sunday.

Lineker said Harry had run to the tunnel during the pitch invasion to take cover, and was attacked by the fans who "ripped his clothes off" and "stole his mobile phone".

Speaking on his Behind Closed Doors podcast with Danny Baker today, the Match of the Day host said his son, who normally produces the podcast, was "terrified".

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He said: "You know my Harry, who is obviously our producer on our podcast, is not here.

"Well, my Harry nearly lost his life – it was a bit of a scary moment.

"Well, he's been in Africa filming in Sierra Leone, he's been there a few days doing a bit of work around the FIFA match between Sierra Leone and Liberia.

"Liberia won the first leg 3-1 and then it was played at Sierra Leone and they were there filming behind the scenes, in the dressing rooms, with all the fans."

Sierra Leone captain Umaru Bangura missed a penalty in injury time when his side only needed one more goal to get through on away goals, prompting a mass pitch invasion.

Gary, who recorded the podcast on Monday, added: "Sierra Leone got a goal and they need one more to go through on away goals and they had a penalty in last minute and the fella missed it and it kicked off — there were riots, it went bonkers, they were attacking the pitch, throwing rocks.

"Harry was with the camera guy and a fixer and (after) the mass invasion they got split, and Harry was on his own and he's running and he thinks 'I'll take cover in the tunnel'.

"So he gets into the tunnel and then all the fans come in — there's 50 or 60 of them and he gets attacked.

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"They were ripping his clothes off, they've taken his phone and everything out of his pockets – he only had his fags, being a silly smoker, typical Harry, and he was terrified – genuinely terrified.

"He thought he saw a blade and thought he was going to get knifed.

"There was an armed guard with a shield and he was shielding people off so he (Harry) dived behind the shield and he said he was there for quite a while and this guy saved him thankfully and got him into a room.

"I learned about that last night and spent half the night awake – he's alright, he's on his way home. It was the last day filming, he's fine – I don't want to be a drama queen."

He added: "It just shows you the fragility of your children – and I just suddenly thought to myself 'God, if that call had been slightly different'.

"He's alright – he didn't have his phone, so he Facetimed me off his laptop when he eventually got back to his hotel and said 'Dad I'm alright, it terrified me, but I'm ok."

  • Gary Lineker

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