Norwich-born Simon Thomas has spoken about his joy after being named as the new presenter of Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports. 

The 50-year-old said he will be himself as takes over from Jeff Stelling on the popular Saturday afternoon programme.  

It was announced on Sunday that Thomas would replace Stelling on the show after he stepped down at the end of the 2022/23 season. 

Thomas said on social media: "Ever since I stepped away from Sky in 2018 to look after Ethan after we lost his mum, rebuilding my career has not always been easy.

"Sky always said the door would be open for me to come back, but this was never the door I expected to open.

Eastern Daily Press: Jeff Stelling stepped down as presenter after last seasonJeff Stelling stepped down as presenter after last season (Image: PA)

“Lots of people have said I have some very big shoes to fill – but I don’t. Jeff Stelling is a one-off.

"An absolute master of his craft. Incomparable. All I can be is myself, and be the best I possibly can.”

Other names said to be in the running were Caroline Barker and Jules Warren.

Thomas’s first wife Gemma died in November 2017 three days after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia.

His second wife Derrina Jebb gave birth to their daughter Talitha in October after an emergency caesarean section after having developed pre-eclampsia and Thomas later spoke candidly about his experience on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine Show.

Thomas added: “This is a huge moment for me and my family and a massive honour to be trusted with such a well-loved and respected program.

"It also feels incredibly special to be fully coming back to the Sky Sports family, who all those years ago believed in me after leaving Blue Peter.

“I also just want to say thank you to my wonderful wife Derrina for always believing in me and my family and friends for always having my back. See you on August 5.”