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Sports star to startup investor: a profile of Gary Lineker

Former England footballer and one of the most recognisable faces on British television, Gary Lineker has been a staple of the UK's football scene for decades.

Beginning his football career at Leicester City in 1978, where he stayed for multiple seasons (and finishing as the joint top goalscorer in the 1984–85 season), he went on to join the then League Champions Everton.

With his skills as a clinical finisher honed here, after winning the Golden Boot in the 1986 World Cup, it wasn't long until he got the calling from abroad, and left the blue lights of Everton to the Spanish giant Barcelona.

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Transferring to Barcelona in 1986 for £2.8 million, it was here that Lineker won his first silverware, scooping the Copa del Rey in 1988 and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1989.

After three successful years abroad, Lineker returned to English football, joining London club Tottenham Hotspur in 1989.

From pitch to presenter to investor

Retiring from football in September 1994, Lineker made the move into TV presenting, starting at the BBC on Radio 5 Live as a sports pundit, where he was given the role as the BBC anchorman for football coverage.

With Des Lynam the presenter of fan favourite Match Of The Day at the time, Lynam retired in 1999 and, impressed by his work on Radio 5 Live, Lineker was given the job - one which he still holds today, nearly 20 years on.

And as a result of his appearances on various TV shows and cameo appearances in films such as ‘Bend it Like Beckham’, Lineker was appointed lead presenter for BT’s coverage of the Champions League.

So from successful footballer for both club and country to TV presenter of some of the BBC’s most well known programs, you might wonder what Lineker's next steps were?

Turns out he is also a keen investor. And he has a particular penchant for tech startups.

Read more: how David Beckham went from football legend to impact investor

Teaming up with a number of insurance veterans (including former chief executive of Ageas Barry Smith and Steve Broughton, the once MD of RSA Insurance), it’s reported Lineker is helping fund a new insurance company that’s betting the internet of things-enabled smart home will become a truly mainstream trend.

By combining IoT with insurance, Lineker wants to support the startup which will monitor customers' homes, ultimately with the aim to try and avoid costly claims.

The company, Neos, which has successfully raised £1 million in its latest funding round, charges a monthly fee to install internet-connected items in homes to keep track of incidents such as possible break-ins, water leaks and fires. Property company Zoopla have already been heavily involved and continue to play a key part in the company's growth.

What's more, the installment will also mean that by pure virtue of IoT, customers will be able to have remote control of their homes, giving them a level of confidence over their property that previously hasn't been possible (for example, being able to turn on lights when they're not at home or being able to respond to incidents quicker than they may have been able to before).

Investing into insurtech

On the same insurance path, Lineker was an early stage investor into the 'insurtech' company Ingenie in 2011.

The company, which effectively provides a car equivalent of an aeroplane's black box, provides data direct to the insurer on how safe the person behind the wheel is driving.

The whole concept encourages safer driving - particularly amongst new drivers in the younger age bracket - which can subsequently help to reduce insurance premiums, something that's particularly appealing to drivers in this focus bracket who are known to have to pay considerably higher insurance premiums than old drivers.

Reported to have invested £500,000 into the company, Ingenie was sold to Quindell in 2014 - and the deal was said to have netted Lineker £3 million.

And whilst Lineker's investments have very much been in the technology field, he's not been shy of providing funds to his beloved Leicester City when needed.

With the club filling for bankruptcy at the start of the millennium, Lineker was one of a number of investors to support the club financially - he's said to have invested £5 million himself - rather than seeing the club go under.

And it turned out to be a worthwhile investment, too - football fan or not, we all know the story of how Leicester won promotion to the Premier League for the 2015/16 season, and went on to win it, even though they were at odds of 1000/1 to win.

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An England legend and one of the sport TV's most well known presenters, Lineker may be best known for his time on the pitch and screen, but he's gone to be a successful investor.

Making a number of impact-driven investments that can help make people's lives easier in a variety of ways - including both financially and socially - I'm personally really intrigued to see which tech startup Lineker invests his money into next.

This post is part of our UK celebrity investors series. You can find our introductory post to the series here. 

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