Ex-Premiership footballer Dominic Matteo on his emotional episode of Long Lost Family tonight

Dominic Matteo and his mother Margaret in Long Lost Family
Dominic Matteo is reunited with his birth mother Margaret in Long Lost Family. (Image credit: ITV)

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."

Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell in Long Lost Family

Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell return to host the 11th run of Long Lost Family. (Image credit: ITV)

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?

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Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.