Rising star at Leicester Tigers wins fight against deportation
A rising star at Leicester Tigers has won his fight against deportation.
Manu Tuilagi will be allowed to live in the UK and play rugby following a U-turn by the Home Office.
The 19-year-old had earlier been denied permission to remain in the country after he overstayed a holiday visa.
He faced being sent back to his native Samoa.
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It was a major blow for Tuilagi, who was expected to get a professional contract at Welford Road after rising through the ranks at Tigers' academy.
His appeal to stay in Britain, which was first reported in the Mercury last month, won the support of thousands and petitions were set up on Facebook.
Yesterday, the Home Office confirmed Tuilagi would be allowed to live and work here "indefinitely" after a review of his case.
Tuilagi, the latest in a Samoan family dynasty to play for Tigers, said he was "delighted".
He said: "I always wanted to stay in Leicester. I went to school in this area and my friends are here.
"It is a big day for me to be told this good news and now I can concentrate on my rugby career with Leicester Tigers.
"I would like to say 'thank you' to everyone who has supported me throughout this difficult time and I hope I can repay them by doing my best for Leicester Tigers in future."
Tuilagi's lawyers said letters of support from fans as well as Facebook groups and petitions had helped.
Peter Wheeler, Leicester Tigers rugby director, said: "We would like to thank everyone who has shown their support.
"We are very grateful for the support of Leicestershire MPs as well as the Rugby Football Union.
"We would also like to thank the Leicester Mercury and its readers who helped to stimulate such great public support."
Phil Dyer, UK Border Agency assistant director, said: "We have considered Manu Tuilagi's case on its own merits and in light of further representations.
"Taking into consideration factors such as his age, length of residence and family ties in the UK, a decision has now been made to grant Mr Tuilagi indefinite leave to remain."
The teenager, who has played for the second team, came here with his family on a six-month holiday visa six years ago but stayed on without permission.