Wayne Lineker on why he needed to change his image

By Jordan Kenny
Newsbeat reporter

  • Published
Image source, Getty Images

One minute you're a tabloid hate figure. The next you've got 500 people charging towards you for the chance to get a selfie. But how did Wayne Lineker go from public enemy number one to a "hero" in the eyes of many Ibiza-bound Brits?

Having a famous older sibling can be odd at the best of times, but even more so when yours is one of the country's most well-known football players in Gary Lineker.

So Wayne carved out his own identity. He moved to Tenerife in 1986, where he opened Lineker's bar.

Its success enabled him to open another venue in Marbella and then, 14 years ago, move to Ibiza where he eventually opened Ocean Beach.

But away from building a business empire he also crafted a public image - one that he freely admits led most people to think he was, in his words, "a bit of a dick".

He became notorious for outrageous online statements and provocative posts such as his now-infamous "girlfriend advert". They almost always ended with a "banter" hashtag but a lot of people didn't see the funny side.

Wayne thinks the media has played a part in his bad-boy portrayal - particularly their coverage of his relationships with much younger women - but when asked about his online reputation he admits: "I was partially to blame for that."

"I posted some near-the-edge content trying to do the Dan Bilzerian route," he says, referring to the controversial social media party king frequently pictured alongside a bevy of models.

"But it didn't really work for me," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

He says the backlash led to "a couple of years that were really tough".

"I've changed my image, changed my persona, not just for me for my family as well."

Image source, Wayne Lineker/Instagram
Image caption,
Some of the England rugby stars made sure they got the summer selfie everyone in Ibiza wants

A look at Wayne's social media feeds - a constant stream of Balearic sunsets and young clubbers living it up - suggest the old party animal hasn't gone completely extinct.

And when Wayne, who celebrated his 60th birthday this year at a star-studded bash surrounded by influencers and celebrities, turns his talk to the latest summer season a smile emerges.

"I think it's the adrenaline that gets me through it now," he says.

Wayne says he's also boosted by the reaction he gets these days.

"People are really nice to me now," he says.

"It's a thing now isn't it? When people start Ibiza WhatsApp groups I'm the picture on the group image.

"And they have challenges on stag and hen parties - always number one is get a picture with Wayne Lineker."

For anyone who's not been to Ocean Beach, when the doors open it's usual to see a stampede of clubbers dashing towards Wayne, who sits at a VIP table at the back of the club, and lining up for a photo.

"I compare it to Mickey Mouse at Disneyland when he comes out and everyone runs to get a picture," he says.

"But I'm the Mickey Mouse of adult Disneyland.

"I literally have to plan my day around it because it's got so intense, 500-600 pictures a day."

Image source, Wayne Lineker/Instagram
Image caption,
Geordie Shore star Chloe Ferry has previously joked about being engaged to her close friend Wayne

Wayne also says after two "pretty terrible" years, he's looking forward to a summer free of restrictions.

"It's the dancefloor for me," he says.

"This year it's full at three in the afternoon - it never used to be full until five or six. People obviously really missed that.

"That makes me sit back, smile and think 'thank goodness we're back'."

Wayne says he's happy to keep joining in and plans to spend the rest of his life in Ibiza.

"I'm doing 150 pool parties in 150 days this year," he says.

"People say 'I don't understand how you can go there every day', and I just say 'what am I gonna do? Just sit in and watch Loose Women all day?'

"It's not gonna happen is it?"

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