Kelly Smith is the woman English football wasn't ready for. Those that saw her describe her as a generational talent - an "Mbappe or Haaland" that burst onto the scene with Arsenal in the late 90s and took the game by storm.But as the Women’s Super League begins its record-breaking three-year broadcasting deal with Sky Sports and the BBC, Football’s Cult Heroes explores the under-reported story of arguably England’s best-ever female player and why she had to travel to the United States to realise her ambitions.She returned to win the quadruple with Arsenal, inspiring a new generation with a left foot “like a jackhammer and a paintbrush at the same time”. But beyond the sphere of women’s football, her achievements still go under the radar.Told by her team-mates, journalists and fans that were there, we hear how Smith overcame injuries, isolation and alcoholism to leave an everlasting mark on not just women’s football, but the future of the English game.Interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 in accordance with UK coronavirus restrictions.Warning: This podcast contains sensitive issues that some listeners may find triggering.
The 2015/16 season was West Ham's chance to give their famous Boleyn Ground the perfect send-off after 112 years.A special player was needed to help to do just that.Enter Dimitri Payet.Football’s Cult Heroes explores Payet’s journey from Reunion Island to France, how he transformed mid-table West Ham into Champions League contenders and his infamous exit. This is the story of one of the most talented players to grace West Ham and how his legacy still remains conflicted to this day - told by the team-mates, journalists and fans that were there.Contributions from Tom Williams, Chris Scull, Darren Randolph, Julian Dicks, Matty Lawless, Geo Mackie and Gonzo.Interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 in accordance with UK coronavirus restrictions.
In the summer of 2002, Bolton manager Sam Allardyce was once again scouring the market for new players.Without a big budget, being resourceful had become second nature to Big Sam, often using his powers of persuasion to lure players to the Reebok Stadium. Nigeria superstar Jay-Jay Okocha was available on a free transfer after dazzling in leagues across Europe, but surely out of Bolton’s reach?You tell that to Big Sam! Here, Football’s Cult Heroes tells the story of how the man that mentored Ronaldinho at PSG came to lead Bolton’s ‘galacticos’ to the brink of the Champions League, embarrassing defenders and upsetting the elite.Team-mates speak of the “humble” captain that led by example whether on the pitch or on nights out in Manchester, journalists reveal the “business-like” character behind the entertainer image, and fans tell of the man that made Bolton cool. This is the story of Jay-Jay Okocha, the greatest showman.Contributions from Colin Udoh, Ed Aarons, Nicky Hunt, Maggie Tetlow, Gordon Sharrock and Kevin Davies. Interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 in accordance with UK coronavirus restrictions.
It's 1992 and it's a whole new ball game.Manchester United are still searching for their first league title in a generation.By November, United are as low as tenth and in need of inspiration.Badboy Frenchman Eric Cantona, despite doubts over his temperament and attitude, is seen by Sir Alex Ferguson as the man to change their fortunes.It would prove to be a move that would change the course of Premier League history. Football's Cult Heroes examines why France turned their back on Cantona, the kung-fu kick that nearly ended his career and how he helped lay the foundations for United's future success. This is the story of how a previously discarded and misunderstood Cantona became king at Old Trafford - told by the team-mates, journalists and fans that were there.Contributions from Julien Laurens, Wayne Barton, Hayley McQueen, Paul Parker, Andy Cole and Barney Chilton.Interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 in accordance with UK coronavirus restrictions.
It's the summer of 1994 and Tottenham are in turmoil.They've been hit with a 12-point deduction, a £600,000 fine and a season ban from the FA Cup.White Hart Lane appeared to be the last ground that German World Cup winner Jurgen Klinsmann would consider as a place to call home. But Spurs owner Sir Alan Sugar knew his club needed inspiration - and was quite literally willing to push the boat out to get his man.Football's Cult Heroes explores how Klinsmann charmed a nation of haters, became a pioneer for top European players to join the Premier League and left Spurs fans always wanting more. This is the story of the superstar striker that was taken into the hearts of the Spurs faithful and returned to save them during their lowest moment - told by the team-mates, journalists and fans that were there.Contributions from Julie Welch, Raphael Honigstein, Theo Delaney, Gary Mabbutt and David Howells.Interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 in accordance with UK coronavirus restrictions.
It’s the early 1990s and Liverpool Football Club have just experienced two decades of unrivalled sporting riches.But underneath the silverware the city had been falling apart.The 1970s and 1980s had seen riots on the streets of Toxteth, industrial unrest and rising unemployment.On the pitch, things had started to unravel as well… Liverpool needed a new hero.Step forward Robbie Fowler.Football’s Cult Heroes charts the rise of an “ordinary” boy with an “extraordinary” gift, the ‘Spice Boy’ tag that led to his Liverpool exit - and the second coming under Rafa Benitez.This is the story of the boy from Toxteth who became God - told by the team-mates, journalists and fans that were there.Contributions from Tony Evans, Gareth Roberts, John Barnes, Jason McAteer and Emile Heskey.Interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 in accordance with UK coronavirus restrictions.
Football's Cult Heroes is a brand new storytelling podcast series from Sky Sports News which will focus on the players that left an everlasting mark on the English game.Told by the players, fans and journalists that were there, the series will examine why these players created such a strong bond with their adoring audience.Each week, for the next six weeks, we will bring you a brand new episode.Our first episode comes out on Wednesday, July 21, when we will be delving into the story of Liverpool cult hero Robbie Fowler.After that, we will look at the stories of Jurgen Klinsmann, Eric Cantona, Jay-Jay Okocha, Dimitri Payet and Kelly Smith.Remember to push the subscribe button and, if you like what you're listening to, hit the five-star review and suggest who you would like us to do in the next series.