Phil Thompson: Kammy and Keane are NOT capable of replacing Stelling

Phil Thompson claims Chris Kamara and even Roy Keane DON’T ‘have what’s needed’ to fill Jeff Stelling’s shoes on Soccer Saturday when the Sky icon quits the show next year

  • Jeff Stelling revealed last week that he will be leaving Soccer Saturday and Sky
  • The 66-year-old has been the face of the Saturday football show for 30 years
  • Ex-Sky pundit Phil Thompson claims Stelling’s shoes are impossible to fill
  • Thompson claims Chris Kamara and Roy Keane are not up for the presenter role

Phil Thompson has backed Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday to ‘evolve’ when his former colleague Jeff Stelling quits the popular show, but does not think Chris Kamara or Roy Keane have what it takes to replace him. 

Stelling, 66, announced he will quit Sky Sports and the Saturday afternoon show at the end of this season for a new challenge, after 30 years at the broadcasting company.

Rumours have speculated over who will replace Stelling as the Soccer Saturday anchor, with the broadcaster’s deputy, Julian Warren, an early favourite while pundits Kamara and Keane are also in the bookmakers’ shortlists. 

Phil Thompson (left) says it is a difficult job replacing Soccer Saturday’s Jeff Stelling (right)

Stelling announced last week that he will be leaving Soccer Saturday and Sky in May 2022

But Thompson, who was let go by Sky along with fellow Soccer Saturday pundits Charlie Nicholas and Matt Le Tissier in August 2020, believes Stelling’s replacement will have a tough time in his shoes. 

Thompson said: ‘There’s nobody ideal to replace him because Jeff is the best and it would be very difficult for somebody to be the exact same as him. However, the show will evolve.

‘Julian Warren presents the Soccer show on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and he’s always been very capable. He’ll probably be up there in terms of replacements but he’s not Jeff Stelling and he’d be the first to say that. But he’s a great lad

‘With the likes of Kammy (Chris Kamara) and Roy Keane, you have to be of a certain personality and while they’re great pundits, I’m not sure they have what’s needed. 

Thompson says Chris Kamara (left) and Roy Keane (right) don’t have what it takes as presenter

‘There’s a lot of others things to be done. They have to read auto-cue, ad-lib a lot of the time, and have the knowledge required for the job as well as be in that journalistic mode. Jeff has all of that and he leaves massive boots to fill.’

Thompson even compared the hiring of Stelling’s replacement to Sir Alex Ferguson’s exit from Manchester United and the difficulties David Moyes had in filling the Scot’s boots. 

The Liverpool legend added: ‘If we were to compare this situation to a manager leaving and a replacement coming in, it’s like when Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester Utd and David Moyes stepped in. 

‘Like in Moyes’s case, everybody is going to scrutinise everything that Jeff’s replacement does. Have they got the knowledge of Jeff? Are they funny like Jeff? Can they get the best out of the pundits like Jeff did?’

Stelling first joined Sky in the 1990s and Thompson compared him to Sir Alex Ferguson

Earlier this year, Thompson told Sportsmail that he ‘misses’ his ‘band of brothers’ in the Soccer Saturday studio, with the former pundit sharing the screen with Le Tissier, Nicholas and Paul Merson – who is still part of the show – for 16 years. 

Thompson, who was the same age as Stelling is now when he was axed by Sky, revealed he spoke to Stelling after his announcement but does not know what the popular anchor will do next. 

‘With regards to Jeff’s future though, it’s not the last we’ve seen of him on television,’ Thompson claimed. ‘Where we’ll see him next, whether it be in the UK or elsewhere, we’ll have to wait and see.

‘He’s looking for a fresh challenge and we definitely haven’t seen the last of him on TV, which is great. 

Thompson (second right) was axed from Soccer Saturday with Matt Le Tissier (far left) and Charlie Nicholas (far right) in August 2020

‘It’s like a manager when he comes out of a job. They’re no sooner out of a job than they want to get back into another job and that’s the same with Jeff. 

‘What it will be I don’t know, and Jeff doesn’t know yet either. ‘The world is his oyster. He is, and has been, the best sports presenter on television. You can see that because of his knowledge, his humour and because of the way he connects with people. 

‘When Matt (Le Tissier), Charlie (Nicholas) and I left, it was very difficult for him to move on without us. The Soccer Saturday show is evolving but I think it was probably difficult for him in that regard.’

 Phil Thompson was speaking to Paddy Power

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