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TV personality desperate to see tournament return

Gary Lineker has said he feels cheated because England have not hosted the World Cup since 1966.

The former international striker, now a television presenter, is part of the team trying to ensure the 2018 tournament heads to England, and says the time has come for the event to return to English shores.

“I turn 50 on Tuesday and the perfect present would be to come back from Zurich later in the week looking forward to a World Cup in England in 2018,” Lineker wrote in his column for The News of The World.

“Even at my age, I have no recollection of 1966 and all that.

“That really brings home to you how long ago it is that we hosted football's - and perhaps all sport's - biggest event.

“I was alive but too young to remember Bobby Moore lifting the trophy, I feel I've been cheated out of having that feeling of being world champions.

“And I feel cheated that we've never hosted it again in my lifetime.”

Lineker believes the event would be best suited to England and feels the potential host nation has everything the game’s governing body could be looking for.

“A World Cup in England would be a World Cup for football,” he added.

“Sometimes the tournament goes to places in order to push the game's frontiers.

“But every now and again it's great to have it in a country that holds football close to its heart and no country has the fervour for the game that we have.”

“I hope the Fifa Executive Committee will look at the situation and ask themselves: what would be the best place to bring back exciting football to the international game?

“If I were a footballer - and a number of Executive Committee members, such as Michel Platini, are ex-players - England would be right at the top of my list of places to play a World Cup.

“There's a terrific atmosphere, the stadiums are all marvellous, the pitches are good, and although we complain about our climate, the weather is perfect for football at that time of year.

“We have an incredible multicultural society that will garner support for any nation that comes to these shores. It would be different to any other World Cup.

“Yes, foreign players come to the Premier League for the money, but they also come for the thrill of playing in packed stadiums with the crowd breathing down their necks.

“A World Cup in England would also be very successful financially - Fifa would be guaranteed a large sum to fund the important work they do for grassroots football around the globe.”

Lineker accepts that optimism around England’s chances is not as high as it could be at present, but called on supporters to look at the successful 2012 Olympics bid for inspiration.

He said: “Can we persuade the 22 men to give us the nod over Spain/Portugal, Holland/Belgium and Russia?

“The public are a little bit downbeat at the moment. But no-one thought we would win the 2012 Olympics bid, yet we did. And it was even sweeter because it was a shock.

“I will be flying out to Zurich on Wednesday with Sir Bobby Charlton, a fellow bid ambassador, to join the 2018 team for one last push.

“David Beckham is absolutely vital to our chances of winning. He has an incredible aura. Prince William is very much the man of the moment.

“The fact they and Prime Minister David Cameron will all be there shows just how seriously the bid is being taken.

“To win the vote on Thursday would be a brilliant lift for the country in difficult times.”

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