Unbelievable Jeff! Stelling announces he WON’T be stepping down from Soccer Saturday after ‘realising I wasn’t ready to blow the whistle’, as pal Chris Kamara battles apraxia of speech
Jeff Stelling has made a dramatic U-turn and announced he will not be leaving Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday programme at the end of this season.
The 67-year-old decided to step down at the end of the season in October following a career spanning 30 years with Sky. He has hosted Soccer Saturday since 1994, two years after its inception.
But after ‘discussions’ with Sky, Stelling has now decided to stay on as host of Soccer Saturday for at least the 2022-23 season.
Jeff Stelling will not be leaving Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday show at the end of the season
In a statement, he said: ‘Sky Sports is my home, and the Soccer Saturday team are a big part of my life.
‘As the end of the season approached, and I was preparing to say goodbye, I realised that I was not ready to blow the final whistle and leave the best job in the world.
‘I am thrilled to be staying, and excited about moving the show forward and creating more special Saturday afternoons on Sky Sports.’
In recent times the likes of longstanding pundits Phil Thompson, Charlie Nicholas and Matt Le Tissier have been shown the door but Hartlepool supporter Stelling denied reports that their departures had prompted his own decision.
Stelling announced live on air that he would be leaving Sky Sports back in October but would not be retiring and he received a standing ovation from the rest of the panel.
He said: ‘I have come to the incredibly difficult decision that this will be my last season.’
Stelling announced in October he was stepping down as host of Sky’s Soccer Saturday show
Stelling was given a standing ovation from the punditry panel when he revealed the news
‘This is my decision – there has been no pressure. Sky have been absolutely brilliant with me, as they always have been. I am not intending to retire but it is time to let somebody else have a go at what is the best job in the world.’
Stelling has been synonymous with Saturday afternoon football for decades, exciting football fans up and down the country.
As Sportsmail reported earlier this month, Sky had wanted the BBC’s Mark Chapman to replace Stelling as host of Soccer Saturday.
Chapman is a well-known voice across BBC platforms and presents BBC Radio 5 Live’s flagship Saturday coverage, along with the Monday Night Club show.
Arguably the voice of BBC Sport, he also hosts Match of the Day 2 and the channel’s rugby league coverage.
It comes just a week after Sky Sports favourite Chris Kamara hinted he’s stepping down from Soccer Saturday after revealing he has developed apraxia of speech when fans worried about his slurring on live TV.
Soccer Saturday legend Chris Kamara revealed plans to step back from live TV this month
Kamara told fans he is working on getting his speech back to normal and hopes he can beat it
Kamara tweeted confirming the move to take a back seat after developing apraxia of speech
The television legend revealed his condition at the weekend after viewers of Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday show expressed concern over his ‘slurred speech’ when he appeared giving updates from the League One clash between Rotherham and Shrewsbury.
The outpouring of goodwill towards the 64-year-old has been evident ever since and Kamara took to Twitter to thank everyone for their support.
‘Thank you so much to everyone for your best wishes,’ he wrote. ‘Twitter can be a wonderful platform.
‘The response about my Apraxia has been overwhelming. Unfortunately for you viewers this is not the end of me but “Live TV” might have to take a back seat at the moment. Thank you.’