Long Lost Family is helping a sporting great as it returns to ITV tonight. Former Liverpool and Leeds defender Dominic Matteo has never spoken publicly about being adopted as a baby. But, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2019, the one-time Premiership star and Scotland international felt the time was right to finally search for his birth mother, Margaret.
Now, the pundit’s moving hunt is followed in the opener of the new 10-part series of ITV’s BAFTA-winning Long Lost Family, airing on Monday 5 July on ITV at 9pm.
"I’ve kept my adoption quiet because it’s very personal but I wanted to make sure she’s OK. It must have been hard for her to carry this around," says Matteo, 47, who is in remission following treatment.
"Maybe it was my illness in the end that pushed me to find her. I’ve had a great life but when you’re close to your life being over, it becomes more important."
Long Lost Family’s team of experts manage to track down Margaret, who still lives in Scotland, where Matteo, who she originally named Stephen, was born. Matteo has always wondered whether Margaret saw him play for Scotland and he is thrilled to discover she watched him several times on TV without knowing he was her son.
"It’s bonkers and blows my mind," says Matteo, who, when they reunite, presents a delighted Margaret with a commemorative pennant from a friendly game he played in against Australia in 2000.
"That she can say her son played for Scotland means a lot. When someone says they’re proud of you, it’s massive. I’ve had tough times over the last year so it’s nice to be in this position now and we can be happy together."
For Nicky Campbell, who co-hosts Long Lost Family with Davina McCall, Matteo’s story is special.
"I loved it because I’m a football fan and a Scotland fan and Dominic was a great player. I’ll never forget the look on Margaret’s face. She’d have been proud whatever he’d done. But learning he played for his country is wonderful," says Campbell, 60, who was adopted himself. "I’m so pleased Dominic came to us."
The opening episode also sees Campbell and McCall help Lisa Phillips, 51, look for her birth mother, Susan. Meanwhile, later in the run, they meet the show’s oldest ever searcher.
"Roy’s 86 and to search at that stage of life shows you never get over wanting answers," says Campbell. "We found his daughter in New York and a further sibling. It was amazing. One of the most wonderful things is that you’re bringing peace of mind."
When is Long Lost Family airing?
The 11th series of Long Lost Family begins on Monday July 5 on ITV at 9pm
Is there a trailer for Long Lost Family?
BAFTA award-winning Long Lost Family returns to the screens on Monday, celebrating its 11th series of re-uniting families torn apart. @NickyAACampbell @ITV @ThisisDavina pic.twitter.com/QNC6SoNYV0July 1, 2021
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