The refugee who lived at Gary Lineker’s home has spoken out amid the Match of the Day presenter’s asylum seeker row. Rasheed Baluch, who lived with Lineker for three weeks, spoke as Home Secretary Suella Braverman was in Rwanda trumpeting her deportation plan.
It comes after the reinstated Match of the Day host Lineker put the migrants row behind him on Saturday and returned to TV. Law student Rasheed spoke as the telly star hosted an FA Cup special after being reinstated by the BBC – and hailed him a “caring and loving defender of humanity”, reports the Mirror.
You are reading: Refugee who lived at ‘loving’ Gary Lineker’s home speaks out on staying with the BBC star
In 2020, desperate Rasheed, 35, was provided with a free bed and board at Lineker’s £4million home in Surrey. He praised the 62-year-old’s kindness and backed him for speaking out against Tory proposals for deporting migrants.
Speaking on his experience for the first time, Rasheed said: “He has been given the right of freedom, right of thought and expression. So if the institutions react so negatively against the statement of Gary, it is undemocratic Gary has come forward to defend humanity. It should be a point of pride for the British public.”
Rasheed, who is also a human rights activist, left the Pakistan province of Balochistan, fearing for his safety. His wife is still there. He revealed that Lineker helped him with his travel costs, adding that he was a“fantastic cook who served mindblowing meals”.
It comes as Lineker returned to the BBC after they lifted his suspension for a tweet likening the language around Tory migrant policy to that used in 1930s Germany.
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Rasheed said: “He is friendly and open-minded. He loved to listen to me when I shared my story about the situation in my country and the plight of my people. Gary was comfortable with my company and conversation. That’s why he listened to me attentively.
“Although Gary is a star, he leads a simple life. He is never proud of his status. He is a very sympathetic, caring and human loving man. He gave me an Oyster card which contained £100 top-up for my transport to university.”
Rasheed said the broadcaster cooked fish, chicken and red meat whilst he stayed with him. Dad of four Lineker, who split from second wife Danielle Bux in 2016, has previously revealed he “started cooking when I became single again”.
He previously shared a letter to him written by Rasheed on Twitter, in which the refugee said: “I can never forget your hospitality, love and company that you and your lovely respectful children gave to me.” The former footballer described Rasheed’s stay – which had been arranged by Refugees at Home (RaH) – as a “hugely positive experience”, thanking him “for giving such a different perspective on life” to him and his sons.
Rasheed lived with Gary for 20 days. He eventually went on to live with RaH co-founder Sara Nathan for a month before finding his own place. The organisation has helped 4,357 people with a total of 326,498 placement nights.
Sara said: “We take great joy in matching refugees and asylum seekers with hosts, especially when it works as well as sending Rasheed to Gary did. Hosting demonstrates the welcome and warmth people in the UK can offer those fleeing war and persecution. It enables people to demonstrate their shared humanity.”
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In 2021, Lineker hosted a second refugee – a young Turk now at university – for a month. The TV host, the BBC’s highest-paid star at £1.35million a year, was reinstated to MOTD as an independent review of the Beeb’s social media guidance was announced.
On Saturday’s FA Cup show, he declared: “Great to be here.” Pundit Alan Shearer told him: “I wanted to say how upset we were that audiences missed out on last weekend. It’s good to be talking football again.” Lineker replied: “Absolutely echo those sentiments.”
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