Jeff Stelling pays Bianca Westwood tribute as Soccer Saturday duo embark on tour

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Bianca Westwood has left Soccer Saturday (Image: Dennis Goodwin/Prosports/REX/Shutterstock)
Bianca Westwood has left Soccer Saturday (Image: Dennis Goodwin/Prosports/REX/Shutterstock)

Jeff Stelling has paid a touching tribute to Bianca Westwood after the Soccer Saturday reporter became the latest broadcaster to leave Sky Sports.

Sky has undergone major changes ahead of the new football season, with the likes of beloved presenter Stelling, long-serving tunnel reporter Geoff Shreeves and legendary commentator Martin Tyler all leaving their roles. And Westwood's time at Sky has also come to an end, with the reporter now preparing for a theatre tour alongside Stelling which will kick off next year.

"A bit like when I did my first match report, I didn't want to make a fuss but I've had SO many messages & questions about where I'll be today I thought I might as well let you know," she announced on social media. "I haven't quite made enough money to retire unfortunately, but I am retiring from Sky Sports & Soccer Saturday.

"It's been a phenomenal 22 & a half years & I've been a small part of building the channel into the giant of broadcasting it is today. What a ride! Being the first female match reporter on Soccer Saturday is something I'm immensely proud of & that can never be taken away from me.

"I've covered hundreds & hundreds of games, I've interviewed hundreds of players & managers. I've watched hours & hours of football. Years of experience (I said what I said!) that will live with me forever. For the most part, it's been a blast.

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"I'm grateful to you the viewers for watching over the years & for all your support. To those I've worked with who've been a big part of my life at Sky, you know who you are, thanks for the memories. On to the next chapter. Buzzing for it".

And Stelling paid tribute to Westwood, tweeting: "@beewestwood such a great girl, such a great reporter. I have to say that of course as we are doing 30+ theatre tour in Jan and Feb. But I also mean it !!"

Soccer Saturday had a very different look when it returned for the start of the Football League season, with new host Simon Thomas at the helm. Thomas was joined in a new studio by pundits Paul Merson, Clinton Morrison, Sue Smith, Michael Dawson and Neil Lennon.

Jeff Stelling pays Bianca Westwood tribute as Soccer Saturday duo embark on tourFormer Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling is going on tour with Westwood next year (Getty Images)

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And in his opening address, Thomas said if he "does half the job Jeff Stelling did, he'll have done something right" as he commented on the changes to the show. "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," he said.

"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'.

"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."

Matthew Cooper

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