Sky Sports give Jeff Stelling an emotional farewell after 25 years
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As the famous American author Theodor Seuss Geisel once said, 'Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.'
On May 28, 2023, an emotional Jeff Stelling presented Gillette Labs Soccer Special for the final time alongside pundits Paul Merson, Clinton Morrison, Kris Boyd, Michael Dawson and Sue Smith.
After almost three decades of hosting the much-loved Sky Sports programme, Hartlepool's most famous fan maintained his professionalism throughout Sunday's finale.
It was an emotional final day of the season for many, with Everton just about staying up and relegating Leicester City and Leeds United in the process.
After an afternoon of many goals Sky paid tribute to their retiring presenter with an amazing compilation video of some of his best bits.
25 years of Jeff Stelling comes to an end. 😪— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 28, 2023
A legend leaves. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/pAPlOHFGPr
After the video had finished those in the studio stood and gave the Hartlepool United fan a short standing ovation for all of his work.
The 68-year-old was surprisingly unemotional despite the video and reaction of his colleagues and refused to get swept up in it all.
Instead he joked that he was changing his mind again, having done that a year ago, and then gave a typically professional thanks to all those who he'd worked with in all his time working on Sky.
Phil Thompson, who was a regular on Soccer Saturday in the 00's, said: "It’s the end of an era, my big (sorry) mate is leaving Sky. He’s a giant (sorry again) in sports broadcasting and Sky’s loss is someone else’s gain. Enjoy your last day pal. RIP Soccer Sat."
Chris Kamara, another legendary figure of the show, wrote: "This Sunday sees the last day at Sky for the best broadcaster I have ever met @JeffStelling. I am getting my tribute in early because Jeff has been a massive part of my life & I love him to bits. One of the things I do miss is working with the maestro."
Neil Mellor added: "All the very best to @JeffStelling on his last @SoccerSaturday show today. He has been a brilliant broadcaster - iconic and passionate over so many years. Loved listening to him, watching him and working with him."
The hardest thing to achieve in sports broadcasting is longevity and relevance. Chapeau to the brilliant @JeffStelling for doing the both with such style, humour and authority.— Mark Pougatch (@markpougatch) May 28, 2023
Back in April, the face of Soccer Saturday announced his departure from the popular show after "30 fantastic years" at Sky.
"I've been at Sky for more than 30 years and loved every moment of my time as part of the Soccer Saturday team," said Stelling, who joined Sky in 1992
"It is now the right time to move on and give Sky Sports viewers a break from my relentless rants, bad gags and over the top celebrations of Hartlepool United goals. It's been a lot of fun - for me at least!"
Minutes before his entrance on Sunday's show, cameras captured Stelling in the corridors, preparing for what was always going to be an emotional afternoon.
Jeff Stelling has arrived for his final Soccer Special. 😢 pic.twitter.com/Q9c62yY9op— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 28, 2023
Sky Sports Director of Football Gary Hughes paid tribute to Stelling after he announced his departure in April.
"After a brilliant 30+ year career at Sky, including over 25 years as the much-loved host of Soccer Saturday, Jeff Stelling is leaving Sky Sports at the end of the current football season," he said.
"Jeff has been synonymous with Saturday afternoon football for decades, exciting and enthusing football fans everywhere.
"His unique broadcasting ability and passion for the game has made Soccer Saturday an unmissable fixture for fans and has won him a multitude of awards.
"He will be sorely missed. Sky Sports will give him the great send off his remarkable and enduring contribution deserves before he leaves us at the end of May to spend more Saturdays with his beloved Hartlepool United."
What's your favourite memory involving Jeff?
Let us know in the comments.