Gary Lineker declares 'Rory McIlroy is British' after The Open heroics
Former footballer and television presenter Gary Lineker has become embroiled in a Twitter row after declaring Co Down golfer Rory McIlroy is "British".
Lineker made the comments after praising McIlroy's valiant comeback attempt at the Open on Friday evening.
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"Fabulous effort today from Rory McIlroy. Showed the character of the champion he is," the former England captain wrote.
"So much rubbish written about lack of bottle. You don’t win 4 majors and the Player’s without heart and nerve.
"We should be proud of our great sportspeople not bash them at every opportunity."
Almost immediately Lineker was inundated with a number of users Tweeting to tell him that McIlroy is infact "Irish".
I’m well aware of the complexities, but I’m also aware it’s sometimes a bit of fun to tease.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 19, 2019
My tweet was in jest. A little wind up that was actually far too successful for my liking. I’ll pipe down. 🤪— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 19, 2019
In response the former Barcelona, Everton and Tottenham star tweeted that "It's the British Open and Rory McIlroy is British".
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Under the Good Friday Agreement people born in Northern Ireland can designate themselves as British, Irish or both.
After this was pointed out to him Lineker tweeted: "Exactly. Don't worry though, I do realise he's from Northern Ireland."
In the past McIlroy has refused to be drawn into the controversy around national identity of those born in Northern Ireland.
From Holywood, McIlroy, a Catholic, has declared his intention to represent Ireland at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
"I think as a young boy it was always my dream to play for Ireland," he said earlier this year.
"I wanted to play for Ireland. I was very proud to put on that shirt or that blazer.
"It's the same as like the rugby players, right? There's players that play for Ulster, but they want to play for Ireland. It's seen as a whole island sport, just like hockey is, just like most of the sports are.
McIlroy had previously said that he resented the Olympics for forcing him to choose between representing Britain and Ireland.
"It put me in a position where I had to question who I am, where am I from," he said in 2017.
"Whether that's right or wrong, it's how I feel."
Belfast Telegraph Digital