BBC Match of the Day's Gary Lineker says he's 'incredibly proud' to accept new role

Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker
-Credit: (Image: BBC)

Gary Lineker has announced he's landed a new role alongside his former England teammate Geoff Thomas. The BBC Match of the Day host said he was "incredibly proud" to become a patron of Cure Leukaemia.

Established in 2003, the charity allowed Birmingham blood cancer patients to access 'remarkably effective new treatments' and later expanded to offer 'potentially life-saving treatment' nationally. Lineker said there were two reasons he'd decided to back Cure Leukaemia, citing his son, George, as one of them.

George was given a slim chance of survival when he was diagnosed with leukaemia as a baby, the Mirror reports. Although he has gone on to live a full and healthy life, Lineker admitted: "If there weren't people raising money for research he wouldn't be with us today."

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Sending a video message to those attending the Salesforce World Tour in London, Lineker said: "Sorry I can't be with you today but thank you for choosing Cure Leukaemia as your partner charity at such an amazing event. I'm incredibly proud to become a patron of Cure Leukaemia, alongside my former teammate and leukaemia survivor Geoff Thomas who is with you today - and there are two reasons why.

"Firstly, my son contracted leukaemia when he was a tiny baby and to be perfectly honest, if there weren't people raising money for research he wouldn't be with us today. That has really motivated me into wanting to help out too. Secondly, Cure Leukaemia are trailblazers in this fight against this horrible disease via the funding of the globally-significant Trials Acceleration Programme."

The programme gives patients access to treatments not available via traditional routes. Gary said the charity had "exciting plans to fund the equivalent programme for children".

Lineker previously told the Athletic in 2022 that his son's diagnosis had 'changed him as a person'. He said: "I was so driven in what I did, as you have to be in football, and I was almost a bit cold in many ways. I was always really like that.

"I think it gave me more empathy than I probably had before. It gave me appreciation and perspective of people who don't get things as I've had in my life. I think in that sense it did change me no question about that, which I think is probably a good thing."

Lineker decided to step down as BT Sport's anchor for their Champions League coverage in 2021 so he could spend more time with his family. However he has continued to host Match of the Day on BBC - a role he's held since 1999.

The presenter has previously said he thinks former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas could fill his shoes when he does finally step down. He said: "Jermaine Jenas - who is probably drifting more towards my role. I think Jermaine is doing it really well as well, doing The One Show," he said last year.