SKY star Jeff Stelling feared his Saturday football friend Chris Kamara would have become the last former footballer to suffer from dementia when he was struck down by thyroid issues.
The couple worked together on the show for the better part of two decades, winning the hearts of the nation.
And Jeff, 66, admits, like the rest of us, that he was worried when Kammy seemed far from his usual eye-catching when reporting on the games. The expert appeared distant and tired, with a noticeably slower speech.
But it turned out that her problems were the result of an underactive thyroid – or hypothyroidism.
Jeff, who announced he would be taking part in his fourth March for Men charity walk to benefit Prostate Cancer UK this summer, said: âI had no idea what was wrong, although I obviously was. aware that Kammy was not himself.
“You didn’t have to be very careful to notice that he just wasn’t the same Kammy we’ve come to know and love over the years – someone extrovert, bubbly, lively. and that would stop you in your tracks.
âI knew there was something wrong and thought it could be the start of an early form of dementia caused by ball heads throughout his football career.
âThere are so many former players who are suffering from it now.
“So I know Kammy was relieved when the problem was diagnosed and we were all relieved too.”
Kammy – famous for saying “Amazing Jeff” – is now being treated with medication.
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Jeff added, âThe thing with Kammy is he’s one of the real good guys. He’s been working his socks off and bringing light and fun to the nation on television for the past 20 years or so.
âHe became a national treasure, really against all odds because he had a good football career, but not a brilliant one, which you would usually expect from someone who becomes a household name through expertise.
âHis career in front of the camera, to be honest, is more successful than his career on the football field. And I’m not saying that to put him down because he was a good, growing footballer.
âBut he was absolutely sensational on TV. So when we found out it was a treatable thyroid problem, that was great news.
“And the real Chris Kamara will be back next season.”
Jeff is hoping Kammy will join him for his charity walk this summer, as he walks four marathons in four different parts of the country over four days in August and September to benefit Prostate Cancer UK.
The presenter, whose three previous walks have raised over Â£ 1million for the charity, hung up his hiking boots after his last trek in 2019.
But he decided to make another one after his pals Lloyd Pinder – who joined him on his first walk in 2016 – and former England, Liverpool and Tottenham goalkeeper Ray Clemence, who presented a medal at the finish line in London in 2019, both died of the disease last year.
The walk will begin in the North East – home of Lloyd’s beloved Sunderland – on August 30, before heading to Yorkshire, where he lived, the next day.
It will then take place in Liverpool, where Clemence made a name for himself on September 1 before ending in London, where he played for Spurs, on September 4.
Jeff will be accompanied on the walk by a number of athletic buddies and members of the public can participate as well.
You can register an interest to participate now in prostatecanceruk.org/jeffsmarch
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