Gary Lineker praised for incredible gesture as he pays for career-saving surgery

Gary Lineker has been praised for his “incredible gesture” after donating £3,000 so a Doncaster Belles player can have surgery.

Sophie Scargill was forced to make a JustGiving page to raise £5,000 after suffering a serious knee injury which required an operation she couldn’t afford.

Scargill, a 26-year-old midfielder, is captain of the Belles, who play in the Midlands section of Division One in the Women’s National League.

But her career was turned upside down in September when she sustained serious ligament damage to her right knee which left her unable to even walk.

Scargill says she was told there was a wait of several years for surgery on the NHS and that her insurance would not nearly cover the fees for private treatment.

Doncaster offered to loan her the money on an interest-free basis, but she instead decided to start a fundraising campaign to try and find the £5,000 she needed to get surgery done quickly.

Scargill received a brilliant response from Doncaster Belles and Doncaster Rovers, with past and present players, including James Coppinger, Gary McSheffrey and Sue Smith, chipping in to help.

But it was the £3,000 donation from Match of the Day presenter Lineker which got her over the line to achieve her target after just four days.

“I see you need another £3,000,” Lineker wrote on Scargill’sJustGiving page. “It’s my pleasure to help. Hope to see you back playing soon.”

Lineker did not publicise his generosity, but others have been quick to praise his donation.

“Incredible gesture by @GaryLineker to cover the rest of the fee needed for @donnybelles club captain @sophies_8 to have the knee surgery which will save her career,” sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley tweeted.

“Shame it’s come to this but we’ll played, Gary.”

Scargill has been overwhelmed by the response to her campaign.

“Wow. Speechless. Can’t quite believe any of this,” she tweeted on Friday evening.

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“Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that has so generously helped me reach my target.

“@GaryLineker your unbelievable donation means I can now start my recovery process.”

Lineker is not the only famous name to lend their support to Scargill’s cause. Watford defender Danny Rose, who was born in Doncaster, has also donated £2,500.

“Wish you a speedy recovery,” Rose wrote. “Don’t rush it. All the best.”

At the time of writing Scargill has raised £7,728 from 81 donations.

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