Seema Jaswal’s first reaction to being told she was to host BT’s coverage of the Champions League this season was to jump for joy.
The presenter had just finished presenting Scotland vs Croatia at Euro 2020 and received a call from her agent at the airport.
“It was just amazing,” she says. “I got a phone call from my agent saying BT had been in touch and wanted to chat with me about a few opportunities.
“I didn’t think for a second it was the Champions League… I just didn’t expect it, but it was incredible. And I was trying to contain myself because you want to be like ‘of course I’d love to do it’ but really you just want to jump up and down.”
Jaswal’s new role is a rich reward for a career that has seen her present for a number of different broadcasters. The 36-year-old is a host for Premier League Productions, the World Snooker Championships and motorsport on Channel 4.
In an exclusive interview with GiveMeSport Women, Jaswal opens up about the feeling of taking over from Gary Lineker, her journalism inspiration and her favourite pundits to work with on the job.
With Lineker having fronted BT’s European coverage since 2015, his replacement was always going to have big boots to fill. Jaswal, however, did not let the nerves take over and instead saw a chance to prove herself to a new audience.
“I’d say I was more excited If I’m honest. Of course, you get the natural nerves and the butterflies in your stomach but I was more excited to say, ok, now you can see what I’ve been doing for these years.”
After the first round of this year’s Champions League got underway a fortnight ago, the public response to Jaswal’s debut was overwhelmingly positive. The presenter revealed she was touched by the messages she received but knows not to use social media excessively.
“I read the comments and replied to them and actually I’m quite lucky in that I’ve only had really, really lovely messages of support… but I don’t get so stuck into social media to the point where I’m checking it when I’m on set. I’m thinking ‘you’ve been given this opportunity, go out there and nail it.’
“To some extent you just have to shut out the rest of the world and do your thing. So while I enjoy social media, I know when I need to look at it and when I don’t.”
Fronting the UK’s coverage of European football has no doubt made Jaswal a role model for aspiring young journalists, but the former Indian Super League presenter had idols of her own growing up.
“It was Georgie Bingham and Kirsty Gallagher –– those were the two that I loved,” she recalls. “I was even the runner for Dave Jones and a lot of the ones that are presenting now.
“When I’m presenting alongside them it’s really quite strange for me sometimes. They all inspire me because when you’re working on a sports channel you get to see how everything works and the work that goes into making it happen.”
Presenting live football allows Jaswal to work with a plethora of different pundits, though she finds it too hard to name her dream panel. “It would have to be about 50 people,” she jokes.
“I work with Ian Wright regularly, Michael Owen, Tim Sherwood, Owen Hargreaves. I worked for Peter Crouch for the first time recently which was lovely.
Tim Sherwood has me in stitches half the time because he’s so funny. I’ve got a really good relationship with all of them.
And of course, though Jaswal must remain impartial in the studio, she does have her own opinion on who will lift this year’s Champions League trophy.
“I’m going to throw Liverpool in there,” she predicts. “I don’t know what it is about them and I should probably throw Man United in there as well because of Ronaldo but I just really think we’re in a special place with our English teams.
“Obviously PSG and Bayern Munich are teams you can’t underestimate and I do think they’ll go far but I’ve got a good feeling about the English teams.
“Barcelona are in a really tricky position at the moment and I don’t see Real Madrid going as far as they would’ve done a few years ago.
“So I don’t know who exactly will make the final, but I think it’s going to be all English again.”
BT Sport is the exclusive home of UEFA Champions League football. Watch every game of the 2021/22 competition live on TV, online and on the BT Sport app. For more info, visit btsport.comNews Now - Sport News