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Refugee who stayed with ‘loving’ Gary Lineker speaks out
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Rasheed Baluch, who was a guest at Gary Lineker’s home for weeks where he was given a free bed, said the Match of the Day presenter has come forward to defend humanity and Britain should be proud.
Brits should be proud of Gary Lineker, says the refugee who the star took in.
Rasheed Baluch lived with the reinstated MOTD host for weeks. He spoke as the Home Secretary was in Rwanda trumpeting her deportation plan. Lineker put the migrants row behind him on Saturday and returned to TV – as a refugee hailed him a “caring and loving defender of humanity
Law student Rasheed Baluch, who was a guest at Lineker’s home for weeks, spoke as the Match of the Day star hosted an FA Cup special days after being reinstated by the BBC. Desperate Rasheed, 35, was given free bed and board at Lineker’s £4million Surrey home in 2020.
He told of the star’s kindness and backed him for speaking out against Tory proposals for deporting migrants.
Sharing his story 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 and unfair.
“Gary has come forward to defend humanity. It should be a point of pride for the British public.”
Human rights activist Rasheed left the Pakistan province of Balochistan, fearing for his safety. His wife is still there. He said Lineker helped him with his travel costs, was keen to hear his story – and was a “fantastic cook who served mindblowing meals”.
Rasheed spoke as Lineker – with trim new hairstyle – tweeted a picture from Man City’s Etihad Stadium today with the caption: “Ah, the joys of being allowed to stick to football.” He returned after the BBC lifted his suspension for a tweet likening the language around Tory migrant policy to that used in 1930s Germany.
Lineker masks, meanwhile, were hoisted by anti-racism protesters at a rally in Glasgow today.
Rasheed went on: “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 star cooked fish, chicken and red meat.
Lineker, 62, who split from second wife Danielle Bux in 2016, has previously revealed he “started cooking when I became single again”.
Rasheed said he returned the culinary compliment by cooking a biryani which “Gary’s sons liked very much”.
Lineker – dad to George, Harry, Angus and Tobias – once used Twitter to share a letter to him written by Rasheed, 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 star described Rasheed’s stay – 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.
After living with Gary for 20 days, Rasheed stayed with RaH co-founder Sara Nathan for a month before finding his own digs. 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.”
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 on £1.35million a year, was reinstated to MOTD as an independent review of the Beeb’s social media guidance was announced.
On today’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.