“It took on its own life.”
For years, Soccer Saturday was compulsory viewing for Premier League fans that were lucky enough to have a Sky subscription.
Back when several of the week’s matches kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday, we all tuned in to watch a bunch of people shouting at little television monitors.
The programme was wildly popular, and not for the football, but for the personalities that were the lifeblood of Sky’s six-hour Saturday extravaganza.
And so, when Sky announced the departures of Phil Thompson, Charlie Nicholas and Matt Le Tissier in August of last year, it felt like the end of an era.
Jeff Stelling – who still presents the show with Paul Merson as a lead pundit – called it one of ‘my saddest days ever at Sky Sports.’
Thompson on Soccer Saturday exit
Thompson was gracious in his announcement, saying he had ‘enjoyed every minute with some amazing people.’
Now, five months on, Thompson has offered a more considered reflection on his time as arguably Soccer Saturday’s most entertaining screen presence.
“It became a way of life, so taking that away…I miss it,” he told the Daily Mail.
“Yes, I miss it. We were a band of brothers. But you do know that change has to happen.
“They wanted to do it sensitively rather than one day you’re gone. They said until we find somebody who is better, it might continue.”
While Thompson, 66, revealed that he had been discussing his departure with Sky for 18 months, he seemed surprised that Le Tissier and Nicholas were let go at the same time.
“It was three parts of a midfield,” added the former Liverpool player and assistant manager.
“The others could have continued.”
Thompson went on to discuss the success of Soccer Saturday and credited Sky for wanting to push the boundaries beyond their usual football programming, of which Super Sunday was the centrepiece.
“It took on its own life,” he said.
“I think people could relate to us. I’m not saying everybody loved every one of us. You only had to go on social media to see that. But we knew what we were and that was the biggest thing.
“We didn’t want to be like Super Sunday, where they would analyse things to death. That was the great thing about Sky. They mixed things up. They created new programmes. They pushed the boundaries.”