How Chris Kamara became everyone's favourite pundit with witty catchphrase before health scare ended his career


TV star Chris Kamara is retiring at the end of the season after 24-years as a pundit on Sky Sports, following a health scare.

Kammy, as he is affectionally known, provided much–needed hilarity on shows including Soccer AM, Goals on Sunday and Soccer Saturday, where he struck up a close bond with host Jeff Stelling.

However, after viewers saw him slurring his words on a recent appearance, the 64-year-old was forced to reveal he was suffering with Apraxia of Speech, following a battle with a thyroid condition.

"My long career at Sky Sports has never felt like work. I've spent 24 terrific years at Sky, and leave with the best of memories.

"My time on Soccer AM, Goals on Sunday and, of course, on Soccer Saturday with Jeff has been – to coin a phrase – unbelievable.

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"I've had the time of my life, and look forward to tuning in every Saturday as a fan."

He will be missed by viewers, especially for his unique take on games.

Taylor-made for punditry

Kamara was a journeyman as a player, representing nine clubs and playing over 700 games for sides including Brentford, Leeds United and Swindon Town.

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But the tough-tackling midfielder was better-known for being a TV pundit.

He began working in as a pundit and commentator after a three-month stint in management with Stoke City, who he couldn't save from dropping to the third tier.

His association with Sky began in 1999 alongside late journalist Brian Woolnough on Soccer Extra.

Impressing producers, he soon moved to Soccer Saturday which was hosted by the legendary Jeff Stelling.

In a new concept, he would attend live games with a TV crew and appear via a video link to give regular updates.

Fans were completely enthralled by Kamara, and his rapport with Stelling blossomed.

His excitable nature and enthusiasm for the cause stood out, as well as the odd gaffe.

But it was his way of words that often drew laughter back in the TV studio.

Comedy timing

Kamara was often the fall guy for Stelling's quick quips.

Like water off a duck's back, though, he would bat them off superbly, and always in good humour.

And then there were the cock-ups. Which, rather than seem unprofessional, added to the drama and fun-nature of the programme.

Take a game between Fulham and Middlebrough Kammy covered back in 2011.

David Healy had seemingly scored an equaliser for the Cottagers, only for the goal to be ruled out.

Taking his eyes off the action, Kamara missed it and joked: "I don't really know what is happening Jeff," as he remained confused.

Then there was that time at Fratton Park, when he somehow missed Anthony Vanden Borre's red card with Portsmouth playing Blackburn.

It was Stelling who had to tell him the Belgium star was given his marching orders, as Kamara thought he had just been subbed off.

And even when he was called upon to deliver an update, like at Upton Park as West Ham hosted Southampton, sometimes Kamara would his cue.

Three requests for a report fell on deaf ears and a video link showed Kammy focused solely on the game in another brilliant mishap.

Unbelievable Jeff!

It made Kamara loveable, and unintentionally funny.

And it wasn't all jokes. When he did get it right, it was a certain catchphrase that brought smiles to fans faces who watched from their sofas.

"Unbelievable Jeff!" he would scream when excited by a piece of action unravelling in front of his eyes.

It's a sentence that the nation has adopted – often shouting it back at him in the street.

He told the Metro: "It’s great having a catchphrase. It’s great that people have accepted it in the way they have.

"There’s no antagonism towards us. And it’s a smile on their face. They all think they’re the first ones to say it, which is great, and I make them feel like they’re the first ones to say as well.

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"No [it doesn’t get annoying], not at all. But it does happen occasionally where you put yourself in situations where people have too much to drink but that’s very, very rare. Most of the time it’s just great banter."

You can bet in years to come, that banter will keeping coming for Kamara, well after his retirement.

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