Soccer Saturday's iconic line-up reunites for a meal

The boys are back in town! Soccer Saturday’s iconic punditry line-up reunite for a meal over a year after Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson, Tony Cottee and Matt Le Tissier were brutally sacked by Sky Sports

  • A number of Soccer Saturday’s iconic former panellists were brutally sacked 
  • Charlie Nicholas, Phil Thompson, Tony Cottee and Matt Le Tissier were axed 
  • Host Jeff Stelling will also leave the show at the end of the season after 25 years 
  • The team reunited for a meal, and Chris Kamara said ‘the boys are back in town’

They brought warmth and entertainment to the weekend’s football action before several of them were brutally sacked by Sky Sports – but Soccer Saturday’s iconic former line-up have now reunited for a meal.

Taking to social media last night, Chris Kamara shared a touching picture certain to tug on the heartstrings, with most of the classic punditry team sat around a table in what appears to be their first major reunion.

Jeff Stelling, Kamara, Charlie Nicholas, Alan McInally, Phil Thompson, Tony Cottee and Matt Le Tissier all joined in for the group photo – although there was no sign of Paul Merson, who continues to guest on the show.

Soccer Saturday’s iconic punditry line-up reunited for a meal (pictured L-R: Jeff Stelling, Chris Kamara, Charlie Nicholas, Alan McInally, Phil Thompson, Tony Cottee and Matt Le Tissier)

The previous crew, after a series of ruthless dismissals, were split up last summer with Sky Sports keen to overhaul their punditry team.

In the number of quickfire decisions, Nicholas, Thompson, Le Tissier and Scott Minto were all let go by the organisation in August 2020. A year on, Cottee – notorious for his goalless draws – followed them out through the exit door.

Former Tottenham defender Michael Dawson was announced as the latest member of Soccer Saturday’s shake-up last August, while the likes of Karen Carney, Clinton Morrison and Tim Sherwood have regularly featured on the flagship programme.

A gleeful Kamara shared the picture on social media and said ‘the boys are back in town’

Cottee (front row, right) joined Nicholas, Thompson and Le Tissier (back row, left to right) in being sacked by the flagship football programme

Sky Sports’ sackings

Charlie Nicholas – August 2020

Phil Thompson – August 2020

Matt Le Tissier – August 2020

Scott Minto – August 2020

Tony Cottee – August 2021 

And in yet another blow to the popular Saturday staple, presenter Stelling has announced he too is stepping away from the show at the end of the season, after over 25 memorable years in the hot seat.

But for one night at least, any lingering frustration was set aside, with seven of the legendary team getting together for a catch-up and a meal.

Kamara, who has also continued working for Sky Sports as a reporter, shared the post on Twitter yesterday evening and captioned it: ‘The boys are back in town.’

The presenters were kitted out in sharp suits and jumpers, making the picture a welcome throwback to the hours spent every weekend enjoying their humour and wit across the iconic desk.

Iconic broadcaster Stelling announced his departure live on air in October, and received a standing ovation from the rest of the panel. He will not be retiring.

Stelling will step down as host of Soccer Saturday at the end of the season after 25 years

He said: ‘I have come to the incredibly difficult decision that this will be my last season.’ 

‘This is my decision – there has been no pressure. Sky have been absolutely brilliant with me, as they always have been. I am not intending to retire but it is time to let somebody else have a go at what is the best job in the world.’

Stelling also commented in a press release: ‘I have loved every moment of my 30 years with Sky, but like every Saturday afternoon the time eventually comes to blow the final whistle. 

‘I am proud to have been part of such a winning team for so long and look forward to the many more special moments on Soccer Saturday for rest of this season – and perhaps even another promotion push from Hartlepool United.’

Stelling received a standing ovation from the rest of the panel after announcing his departure

When Sky announced before the 2020-21 season that Nicholas, Thompson and Le Tissier were axed, Stelling shared his feeling of sadness on social media. 

‘One of my saddest days ever at Sky Sports with the departure of three of my best mates,’ Stelling tweeted after the controversial decision was made. ‘They have been part of a team that for me was the best.’ 

Last year, Sportsmail revealed that Stelling considered stepping down from the show after his three close friends were let go, but instead chose to stay in his role last season. He again took the reins for the current 2021-22 campaign.

Speaking exclusively to Sportsmail earlier this year, Thompson revealed his dismay with being axed – and claimed there was emotion among the show’s audience, too.  

Thompson (second right) was axed with Le Tissier (far left) and Nicholas (far right) in 2020

He said: ‘It became a way of life, so taking that away… I miss it. Yes, I miss it. We were a band of brothers. But you do know that change has to happen. 

‘It was three parts of a midfield. The others could have continued. I do think we bridged all the gaps because people grew up with us. We did it for 16 years. 

‘Even though people didn’t remember us as players, they knew us as Soccer Saturday. So it was part of their life.’

Soccer Saturday has continued to air with host Stelling (left) and pundit Merson (middle)

The axed trio are yet to return to punditry on television, although they did feature in a Paddy Power mini-series called ‘Pundits’, where they referenced Soccer Saturday.

Meanwhile, rumours are still rife over who will replace Stelling as the anchor.

His deputy, Julian Warren, is an early favourite, while pundits Kamara and Roy Keane – the Manchester United legend – are also on the bookmakers’ shortlists. 

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