Simon Thomas begins Soccer Saturday tenure with tribute to Jeff Stelling

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Simon Thomas has replaced Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday (Image: Sky Sports)
Simon Thomas has replaced Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday (Image: Sky Sports)

New Soccer Saturday host Simon Thomas claimed if he "does half the job Jeff Stelling did, he'll have done something right" after making his debut on the show.

The Sky Sports results show has become a staple for football fans and returned for the start of the Football League season on Saturday afternoon. Stelling had been the presenter for well over two decades despite constant change around him, but he's chosen to pursue other avenues and stepped down at the end of last season.

Thomas has stepped in after being announced as the new man in the hotseat and began his new role by paying tribute to the man he was hired to replace, underlining the respect and admiration he has for Stelling.

He said: "Hi there, very good afternoon. In the blink of an eye the football season is back. It's like autumn out there, so it's high time it returns. It's a new season, we have new managers, new players and there's a bit of a new feel as you might have already seen to Soccer Saturday.

"We have a new studio, a new look, but hopefully everything you still love about this terrific show. Now, before we go any further I just want to say this, over the last couple of weeks, one or two people said 'you've got some rather large boots to fill'.

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"I have not brought the boots today. I have brought my own shoes, a nice comfortable pair of size 10 leather brown shoes. But I want to say this, it is an absolute honour to take on the role of hosting this quite brilliant show and if I can do even half the job that the legend Jeff Stelling did over the last 25 years, I will have done something right."

Thomas was joined in the Sky Sports studio by Paul Merson, Clinton Morrison, Sue Smith, Michael Dawson and Neil Lennon who provided match insight and commentary.

Stelling has been linked with a host of potential roles after leaving Sky but it's been reported that he's set to join TalkSport, leading their breakfast coverage after Laura Woods left for TNT Sports. The legendary presenter made a cryptic comment about his future as he quipped there's "still a bit of life in the old boy yet".

He said in his final show Stelling said:"It's been the best job that anybody could possibly wish for. My wife Lizzie takes great pleasure in saying 'you're the luckiest man ever to take a breath'. And you know what, I don't tell her this often but she's right."

Samuel Meade

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