Former player, manager, pundit and personality, Chris Kamara has been presented with the prestigious Contribution to League Football Award.
Kamara is one of football’s most recognised faces and a legend of the English game, with more than 700 career appearances to his name and more than 100 games as a manager.
“The last time I had a standing ovation I was getting sent off!” he said on the award. “This is amazing, I am absolutely lost for words. I’ve had a wonderful time, from when Portsmouth bought me out the Navy in 1974 as a 16-year old. £200, it still goes down as the worst deal in the Club’s history.
“From my first manager was Ian St John, I have had a great career and I would like to thank you all. Then two years as manager at Bradford and not so well at Stoke and then 25 years in TV working with the ‘Unbelievable Jeff’. It’s humbling for him to say all those nice things about me. I thank Rick Parry and Trevor Birch and the panel of the English Football League. I can only say thank you all very much.”
Kamara signed for Portsmouth as an apprentice after being spotted by then manager Ian St John while playing for the Navy. His professional debut came in 1975 as an 18-year-old, with his first senior goal coming in the following game against Bolton Wanderers.
🏆 The recipient of the Contribution to League Football Award goes to “Unbelievable” football legend, @chris_kammy! ❤️👏
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— EFL (@EFL) April 23, 2023
After over 60 appearances for Pompey he moved to Swindon Town where he made more than 250 appearances across two spells, scoring on his league debut and helping the Robins reach the League Cup Semi-Finals in the 1979/80 season.
After a brief spell back at Portsmouth, Kamara signed for Brentford where he made more than 150 appearances, scoring a career-best 11 goals in his first season at the club. During his time with the Bees he helped them to two top-ten finishes, before helping them avoid relegation in 1984 and an EFL Trophy runners-up medal in 1985.
Upon returning to Swindon in 1985, Kamara was part of the side that won the Fourth Division, gaining promotion along the way. The following season they achieved a second successive promotion, with Kamara missing just four league matches all season.
In the summer of 1988 he moved to Stoke City, where he won Player of the Year in his first season before he was sold to Leeds United in 1989. Despite only making around 20 appearances for Leeds, he did help the side to the Second Division title in 1990.
In 1995, Kammy took the reins as first-team manager at Bradford City. His goal was to keep the Bantams out of the relegation zone by the end of the 1995/96 season, however just three defeats in 13 games saw them secure a Play-Off place where they beat Blackpool to reach the Play-Off Final, before beating Notts County in the Final to secure promotion from the Second Division.
Kamara went on to work as a pundit for a number of television and radio stations, becoming an iconic figure in football broadcast. He was one of the first to appear on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, where he quickly became known for his comic punditry.
In 2022, after suffering health problems and developing apraxia of speech, Kamara announced that he would be leaving Sky Sports after 24 years.
Off the pitch, Kamara continues to give back, serving a number of charities. In the 2023 New Year Honours List, Kamara was awarded an MBE for his services to football, anti-racism and charity.