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Gary Lineker calls on football fans to go to the theatre

Gary Lineker (second left) with cast members John Bowler, Stephen Tompkinson and Dean Bone after a performance of The Red Lion at Trafalgar Studios, London Gary Lineker (second left) with cast members John Bowler, Stephen Tompkinson and Dean Bone after a performance of The Red Lion at Trafalgar Studios, London
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Former England striker Gary Lineker has called on footballers and fans to head to the theatre, adding there were “so many similarities” between the two.

Lineker, who hosts Match of the Day, was speaking at a post-show Q&A for The Red Lion, a play about semi-professional football, at the Trafalgar Studios in London.

He talked of his love for theatre, calling it a “great experience” and bemoaned the fact he had come to live performance late.

Producers of The Red Lion have been working with football clubs, offering free tickets for academy and youth programmes and group discount schemes in order to inspire new theatre fans.

Lineker, who played 80 times for England scoring 48 goals, said: “I got really into it, and I go at least once a month to watch plays, so I would thoroughly recommend that. It’s great, I’m sure other players will be the same.”

He added: “I think experiencing theatre is a great thing. I’ve loved theatre for a few years now, I wish I’d got into a lot younger.”

Lineker agreed that the hardest thing for theatres was to get football fans through the door in the first place, saying this was “certainly the case” for him.

The National Theatre published statistics in 2014 that more people went to the theatre than the Premier League. The next step is bringing the two together.

A play like The Red Lion “is certainly a gateway for footballers and football fans,” Lineker said, “coming to see something like this would certainly get you into theatre.”

Asked what his message to football audiences about trying out theatre would be, the former Everton and Tottenham Hotspur frontman added: “It’s about people working together, it’s entertaining, it’s fun, it’s a great experience.

“Like football, you never quite know what you are going to get; sometimes you’ll love it, sometimes you’ll hate it, it’s experiencing something live and performances, so there are so many similarities. For me, I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone.”

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