Chris Kamara, one of football’s most popular figures, has been made an MBE in the New Year Honours List.
The 65-year-old played for nine English professional clubs in a career spanning 20 years before going on to manage Bradford and Stoke, but in more recent years he has become best known for his work as a pundit and presenter on Sky Sports.
Kamara’s inability to contain his enthusiasm for the game and his propensity for gaffes during live stadium video links in Sky’s Soccer Saturday programme became the stuff of legend, often leaving programme host Jeff Stelling and other studio guests in stitches.
“Unbelievable Jeff” became Kamara’s enduring catchphrase, and it felt like the end of an era when his departure from Sky after 24 years was confirmed at the end of last season.
There was a huge outpouring of support for Kamara on social media when he went public about his apraxia of speech (AOS) diagnosis, saying he felt “a fraud” as a broadcaster having learned he had the condition earlier this year. A documentary called for Lost For Words about Kamara coming to terms with the condition was broadcast earlier this month.
Kamara, who also presented Sky’s Goals On Sunday programme, is well known to non-football lovers as a co-presenter of ITV’s Ninja Warrior show.
Born in Middlesbrough of Sierra Leonean, English and Irish descent, Kamara served in the navy before joining Portsmouth for the first of two spells.
He played over 200 games across two stints at Swindon, and also played for Brentford, Stoke, Leeds, Luton, Sheffield United, Middlesbrough and Bradford.
He also led the Bantams to promotion to what is now the Championship in 1996.
Kamara’s MBE recognised his services to football, charity and anti-racism.
He spoke in 2020 about how a pub in Wetherby had refused to serve him due to the colour of his skin on his way back to Portsmouth after playing for Pompey in 1975.