We chat to Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling about Soccer Saturday camaraderie, and get his expert analysis on the football season and England's Euro chances...
Football fan? It’s officially crunch time for this season’s league, and with the Premiership coming down to the wire, we thought there’d be no better time to sit down for an exclusive chat with Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling.
Why exclusive, you may ask? Vodafone UK is the only network with a top squad of content partners for 4G, and Sky Sports is a key member of the roster. Not only does that allow us to bring you interviews with the likes of Jeff and other Sky Sports pundits like Matt le Tissier and Alan Smith, but it also means that when you sign up to one of our Red Value 4G Bundles, you can choose to get a subscription to Sky Sports Mobile TV at no extra cost!*
So with all that in mind, we thought we’d ask Jeff for his expert analysis of the season so far, his tips for the future, and exactly what it is that makes Sky Sports such a special place to watch football – starting with that infamous Soccer Saturday camaraderie…
“I mean, you know what they’re all like – would you want to spend more than 6 hours with them?!” Jeff says jokingly of his Soccer Saturday colleagues. “No, in all seriousness, we’re all good mates at the end of the day. We all meet up on a Friday evening for a few drinks and a catch up before the show on Saturday; we’re in touch all the time really.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself and wonder how it all happened, to be honest,” he adds when we grill him on what it’s like to be surrounded by footballing legends. “Suddenly I’m mates with Phil Thompson – a three time European Cup winner and Paul Merson – an absolutely genius with the ball at his feet. And Charlie Nicholas and Matt le Tissier and everyone else. I still get a buzz out of how great the whole culture is at Soccer Saturday.”
Want to be part of the gang? If you join Vodafone on a Red Value 4G Bundle and choose to grab a Sky Sports Mobile TV subscription on top, you get full access to Sky Sports 1, 2 and News, which means you can watch Soccer Saturday and live matches from anywhere via your mobile device. Click here to get involved!
Although the season is very nearly over, the intrigue certainly isn’t. With just a few weeks left, there are still European places up for grabs, and relegation battles to be fought – with games like Arsenal vs Sunderland and Man City vs. QPR set to have a huge impact at both ends of the table, even if Chelsea look to have the title wrapped up. So what’s Jeff’s insight on the situation?
“I think Chelsea have just enough of a buffer,” he says. “They’re not playing well; they look like a racehorse that’s absolutely knackered and desperately trying to get over the line.
“There’s still everything else to play for though. The final game of the season is Man City vs. Southampton, and at this rate there’s every chance that could turn out to be a decider for a Champions League place, so that will be an absolute cracker of a game.”
“The final game of the season is Man City vs. Southampton, and that could be a decider for a Champions League place…”
This season as much as any has cemented the Premier League’s place as one of the best competitioms in the world. The level of quality between different leagues will always be debated, but the Premier League is frenetic and unpredictable, and that makes it a joy to watch every week – whether you’re at home or out and about with your smartphone on Vodafone 4G. But as ever, it’s the huge collection of world class players that make the Premier League truly special. So who has Jeff enjoyed watching the most this year?
“This won’t be a surprise, but Chelsea’s Eden Hazard has been fantastic,” he enthuses. “There should be no debate whether he deserves his Player of the Year award. He hasn’t carried the team as such, but without him they’d be completely different. He’s got flair. He can open up defences. He’s been brilliant this season.
“There are plenty of others too, of course. I have to mention Harry Kane at Spurs, who has been exceptional, but David de Gea has been brilliant for Manchester United too, while Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho has really emerged this season as a true Brazilian playmaker in every sense of the phrase.
“And I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed watching QPR’s Charlie Austin,” he adds. “This is a guy who was playing semi-pro football and working as a bricklayer seven years ago. But he’s come up through the leagues, he’s shown a fantastic attitude and shown he can play Premier League football in a struggling team. It’s a fairy tale really.”
The new generation
The aforementioned Harry Kane is just one of a new phase of young English players who have impressed in the Premier League this year. With the likes of Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley well on the road to superstardom as well, we had to ask a man who’s watched these players every week: just how promising is this next generation of home grown talent?
“Do I see someone who will be a world-beater in a few years time? I don’t think so, not yet.”
“It’s so hard to tell,” Jeff admits, “because with Barkley and Sterling and Kane, none of them have really had the chance to prove anything at a European level, or a national level yet. I do think we’ve got a great crop coming through, but do I see someone who will be a world-beater in a few years time, that we’ll talk about alongside Messi and Ronaldo? I don’t think so, not yet.”
Damning judgement or realistic assessment? Only time will tell. But as Jeff reminds us in closing, things change very fast in football:
“Players develop at different speeds,” he says. “When Ronaldo first came to United, he wasn’t that impressive. This time next year if you ask me that question, there could easily be two or three of these young English players who have turned into world class superstars. And then maybe we can talk about England’s chances at the Euros!”
There’s no better reason to keep it locked to Sky Sports than that – you just don’t know what you could miss. To keep up with the action wherever you are, simply choose Sky Sports Mobile TV as your entertainment pack when you sign up to one of our Red Value 4G Bundles.
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