Jeff Stelling, the 68-year-old presenter of Soccer Saturday, marked his departure from the show with an emotional farewell, including a surprise phone call from Elton John. Stelling revealed that the legendary singer, who was once the owner of Watford football club, rang him at home to wish him well ahead of his final appearance on the show. Stelling said he was left “starstruck” by the phone call and that Elton John thanked him for all he had done. The singer added that every week, he watched the show and that Stelling’s predictions for Watford and Hartlepool, the club Jeff supports, made him feel like they were “kindred spirits.”
Tributes Pour In
After Stelling’s final Soccer Saturday show, tributes poured in from the public, celebrities, and sports personalities. His son Robbie posted a message on social media, saying, “You are the best there has ever been.” Piers Morgan tweeted, “Thanks for all the fun, excitement, entertainment, and incredible professionalism, Jeff – you’ll be greatly missed.” Eamonn Holmes said, “You are The Goat. Respect. Enjoy the next chapter.” LBC presenter Iain Dale thanked Stelling for “hours and hours of tremendous sports broadcasting.” Even football clubs joined in the tributes, with Hartlepool United wishing their fan Stelling “all the best,” and FC Halifax Town jokingly inviting him to their game against Hartlepool next season.
Stelling’s Career at Sky and Soccer Saturday
Stelling joined Sky in 1992 and was the main host for the broadcaster’s live Champions League coverage between 2011 and 2015. However, he is best known for his work on Soccer Saturday. Stelling had announced his intention to step down from the show last month, stating that it was the “right time” to move on after more than 30 years at Sky and 25 years at the helm of the flagship football results show. He said he wanted to give Sky Sports viewers a break from his “relentless rants, bad gags, and over-the-top celebrations of Hartlepool United goals.”
Stelling’s unique broadcasting ability and passion for the game have made Soccer Saturday an unmissable fixture for fans and have won him a multitude of awards. Gary Hughes, Sky Sports’ director of football, said, “Jeff has been synonymous with Saturday afternoon football for decades, exciting and enthusing football fans everywhere.” Stelling has not only entertained audiences but has also raised awareness of prostate cancer. He has worn the charity Prostate Cancer UK’s badge for the past eight seasons and is organising a charity football march for the organisation in September.
Stelling paid tribute to all those who worked on Soccer Saturday, including the call centre staff, runners, production crew, and commentators, saying, “It’s a team game.” He ended the show by thanking the viewers for their incredible support. Stelling’s departure from Soccer Saturday marks the end of an era, but his legacy will continue to live on.