A former Wagga footballing talent is facing deportation from the United Kingdom within the month after an alleged paperwork mishap turned his life ‘upside down.’
James Geale, 36, told UK media on Tuesday he had been living legally in London for almost 10 years, during which time he had met and engaged a British woman, Jennifer Sutton.
Now, Mr Geale says he is fighting to stay in the country after the UK Home Office rejected his application for indefinite leave to remain because of paperwork.
“I feel a bit betrayed,” he told London’s Evening Standard.
“I’ve paid my taxes for 10 years, I’ve done everything right, I’ve got a home, (and) I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong apart from filing a piece of paper a month late.”
Now my whole life has been turned upside down and they’re kicking me out of the country.James Geale
Former East Wagga-Kooringal player and president Mark Mullen said Mr Geale was a key ruckman and “popular club man” for the Hawks in the early 2000s.
“He’s a good bloke and was always well-liked around the clubhouse,” he said.
“Tall, gangly, young blokes who could play were pretty rare at the time and I remember him doing a good job for us in seniors when he was only 18 at the time.”
Mr Mullen also apprenticed Mr Geale for four years in Wagga as a cabinet maker and said he was a “talented tradesman.”
“He’s made himself a pretty good career in the UK and I’ve heard he’s doing well,” he said,
“I think he’d be a big loss if they deported him.”
Mr Geale and Ms Sutton had been planning to tie the knot in France in August, 2018.