Jeff Stelling

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Jeff Stelling
JStelling.jpg
Born Robert Jeffrey Stelling
(1955-03-18) 18 March 1955 (age 59)
Hartlepool, County Durham, England
Residence Bishop's Waltham, South Hampshire
Occupation Journalist,
Radio/Television presenter
Spouse(s) Liz Stelling (m. 1998)
Children Robbie (b. 1998)
Matthew (b. 1999)
Olivia (b. 2003)

Robert Jeffrey "Jeff" Stelling (born 18 March 1955) is an English sports journalist and sport television presenter. He currently presents Gillette Soccer Saturday for Sky Sports and their coverage of the Champions League. He also presented Channel 4 quiz show Countdown between 2009 and 2011.

Early life[edit]

Stelling was brought up in a council house in Hartlepool.[1] He attended Rift House Primary School and West Hartlepool Grammar School. After leaving school his first job was as a journalist at the Hartlepool Mail where he remained for four years.[1]

Career[edit]

Radio[edit]

His first broadcasting position was as a reporter on Middlesbrough F.C. on Radio Tees in the late 1970s.[1] He was a sports presenter on London's LBC Radio Sportswatch programme in the early 1980s before moving to BBC Radio 2's weekend sports programme Sport on 2, covering the Los Angeles and Seoul Olympic games.

Television[edit]

He later spent time as a sports newsreader at TV-am, Channel 4, Eurosport and British Satellite Broadcasting before moving to Sky in 1992 to present coverage of horse racing, snooker and darts. In 2003 he won a sports presenter special edition of The Weakest Link. In 2004, Stelling was offered but rejected an offer from the BBC to front Score—their new Saturday results service. The job was given to Ray Stubbs.

Sports Saturday[edit]

In 1994 Stelling became presenter of Sports Saturday, which became Gillette Soccer Saturday in 1998, hosting a programme lasting up to six hours of football discussion and live reports on the afternoon's games with a panel of pundits including Frank McLintock, Chris Kamara, Rodney Marsh and the late George Best. Much of the programme's popularity is put down to Stelling, The Guardian praising him for "exceptional professionalism and élan"[2] and When Saturday Comes describing him as "perhaps the best sports presenter on British TV".

At the start of the 2005–06 Premiership football season, Stelling replaced Ian Payne as the host of Sky Sports' Ford Monday Night Football programme. However, Stelling's appointment coincided with a new, shorter format of the programme, with Stelling presenting the show live from the ground of that evening's game. Previously, the show had been presented from a studio, and had featured some coverage of the prior weekend's games. Moreover, in previous years on Monday nights without a live game, a Monday Night Football Special would be broadcast, which included only the analysis from the weekend's games. This appears to have been dropped from the 2005–06 season, indicating that Stelling's appointment is to a smaller role than that held by his predecessors.

Stelling made a brief appearance in an episode of Mike Bassett: Manager where he played as himself in the episode "Abide with me".[3]

In 2011, when presenting Gillette Soccer Saturday, Stelling unbeknowingly got tongue-tied when saying the name of Scottish First Division football team "Raith Rovers". He mispronounced it as "Roath Ravers". The gaffe was subsequently mocked by Sky Sports' satirical live football-based show, Soccer AM. Two of its crew dressed up and danced like night club 'ravers'. Stelling's mistake was turned into a soundbite and remixed to make the music that they danced to. The gaffe also helped inspire a new football club to be set up in the Roath area of Cardiff called Roath Ravers FC.

In 2011 he replaced the departed Richard Keys as the main presenter of Sky's live Champions League coverage.

Countdown[edit]

On 21 November 2008, it was reported that Stelling had been confirmed as the new host of the Channel 4 game show Countdown following the departure of Des O'Connor. He had reportedly also been approached for the role following the death of long-time host Richard Whiteley, but the role was given to Des Lynam instead.[4] Stelling began recording Countdown in December 2008, with the show's new assistant Rachel Riley, and started broadcasting in January 2009. He also appears during an episode of The IT Crowd in the same role. However, it was announced on 25 May 2011 that Stelling would be stepping down as presenter of Countdown at the end of the year, after three years at the helm, to concentrate on football, including his new Champions League role.[5][6]

Other work[edit]

He appeared in an advert for Sky Broadband in 2013 which spoofed a previous Sky Broadband advert which starred Bruce Willis.[7]

In May 2013, Jeff joined twentyfour7 Football Magazine and wrote columns for the magazine's Dream Team.[8]

Stelling provided a voice-over for the computer game FIFA 14 where he introduced each match.

Recognition[edit]

On 23 November 2007 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Professional Studies by the University of Teesside.[9]

Stelling has been named as Sports Broadcaster of the Year for five successive years by the Sports Journalists' Association, based on a poll of its members. He has so far been the only broadcaster to win the award.

On 12 March 2010 he was granted the title of honorary freeman of his hometown of Hartlepool, along with the town's former MP Lord Mandelson.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Stelling lives in Bishop's Waltham in south Hampshire with his wife Liz and two sons Robbie (born September 1998) and Matthew (born December 1999) and a daughter Olivia (born July 2003). They were married in November 1998 in Richmond upon Thames. He has completed the London Marathon on eight occasions and his best time is 3 hours and 28 minutes.[11] In June 2013, Stelling, Colin Cooper, Craig Hignett and 12 others climbed Mount Kilimanjaro raising money for the children's charity The Finlay Cooper Fund.[12] The climb raised £100,000.[13]

He is a well-known supporter of his local club, Hartlepool United F.C., in which during the 2008–09 season, he would use a singing toy figure of the singer James Brown singing "I Feel Good" every time the player of the same name scored. He has also hummed the theme of The Sweeney when Anthony Sweeney has scored.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by
Paul Dempsey
Host of Soccer Saturday
1994–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Des O'Connor
Host of Countdown
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Nick Hewer