Jeff Stelling 'never dreamt of' broadcasting career growing up on North-east council estate

Jeff Stelling receives his MBE
Jeff Stelling receives his MBE -Credit:PA

Sports presenter Jeff Stelling said he "could have never dreamt of" his decades-long career when he was a young boy growing up on a Hartlepool council estate.

The veteran broadcaster, who fronted Sky's Soccer Saturday programme for 25 years before stepping down last year, was made an MBE on Wednesday for services to sport, broadcasting and charity at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Speaking to the PA news agency, Stelling said the honour, given by the Princess Royal, was "amazing, unexpected, thrilling and, on the day, nerve-racking".

"I remember growing up on a council estate in Hartlepool and, you know, your main aspiration was actually to get a job to earn a living, because unemployment was so rife. You wouldn't dream of anything like this - it is literally, it's a cliche, beyond your wildest dreams."

The 69-year-old broadcaster is also an ambassador to Prostate Cancer UK - for which he has helped raise more than £1.7 million - and said de-stigmatizing the disease was the "raison d'etre" of his charity work.

"With men, in particular, we all think we're big and butch and strong. We don't go to the doctors - and certainly not if it's anything to do with something below the waist. So to try and change people's view of that means a lot."

Figures from Cancer Research UK estimate 12,000 lives are lost to prostate cancer in the UK each year. Stelling said the highlight of his 40-year-long career would "probably be hosting the Champions League final for the first time at Wembley", which he called an "amazing" experience.

"But I've been fortunate," he added. "I wasn't a sportsman, I didn't play sports, yet I've spent my life mingling with top sportsmen and a lot of them became close personal friends.

"Again, that's something I could have never dreamt of."

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