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Derek Rae Leaving U.S. to Join ESPN in UK

derek rae commentator Derek Rae Leaving U.S. to Join ESPN in UK

Derek Rae, one of the most talented US-based soccer commentators, will call his last game for ESPN US next week before he heads to the United Kingdom to work for ESPN UK.

Rae will be the ESPN UK’s main commentator for the Scottish Premier League, where ESPN UK will air 30 SPL games from the 2010-11 season, beginning on August 15 for Europa League qualifiers Motherwell against Hibernian. He’ll also commentate Europa League games as well as some English football games (mostly FA Cup) and the other European leagues that ESPN UK covers such as Serie A, Bundesliga and Eredivisie. In addition to ESPN UK, you may see Rae on ESPN’s Press Pass, which is shown around the world on ESPN affiliates. And there’s always the chance that you may hear him on a world feed again, or see him reporting for ESPN.

His last game as a commentator for ESPN US will be next week’s friendly between Manchester City and Club America.

Born and bred in the Scottish city of Aberdeen, Rae joined ESPN in 1994, and is best known for his work as the lead English language play-by-play commentator for the UEFA Champions League.  In June 2008, he served as a play-by-play commentator for ESPN’s critically acclaimed coverage of the UEFA European Football Championship 2008 (Euro 08). And during June and July of this year, Rae served as play-by-play commentator for ESPN and ABC during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Rae’s professional broadcasting experience dates back to 1986, when he made his debut with BBC Scotland, while still a student at Aberdeen University.  The following year he was named “Sony British Sports Broadcaster of the Year” for his work as a soccer commentator.  While with BBC Scotland, Rae was assigned to matches in 19 different countries, and was behind the microphone at the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. After leaving the BBC in 1991, Rae moved to Boston, MA, initially to serve as a Venue Press Officer for the World Cup USA 1994 Organizing Committee.

Rae, for many soccer fans in the United States, is synonymous with being the “voice of the Champions League.” His caliber of commentating was, by far, the best in the United States. And his level of research and pronunciations were exemplary. Rae raised the bar with his commentary style and will forever be fondly remembered in the hearts and minds of soccer fans who were witness to his professionalism and pure class.

The big question for soccer fans in the United States is where will ESPN go from here? Will Adrian Healey step into Derek Rae’s shoes to fill the gaping void? Or will ESPN hire additional talent to help balance the load of commentating Major League Soccer games and upcoming internationals? We’ll have to wait and see, but in the meantime, let’s wish Derek Rae the best of luck.

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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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23 Responses to Derek Rae Leaving U.S. to Join ESPN in UK

  1. Simon Burke says:

    Good for him, I have always enjoyed listening to him. Part of the shame of ESPN getting in Tyler and Darke (who I also love hearing) was that guys like Rae who got them there were relegated somewhat.

    I preferred Rae to Healey but Healey is decent. I guess Derek couldnt take Tommy anymore :)

  2. Massive loss for ESPN, but fantastic for Rae. I’ve always liked him and wish him the best of luck.

  3. Not the right place I know but I’m sat here watching SKY Sports in England and they are saying that Manchini is in the states trying to sign Donovan for Man City.
    Thought you guys might be interested to know

  4. Chris says:

    epic fail for espn usa

  5. Quinn says:

    Good move for Derek. Other than the World Cup, I don’t recall hearing him commentate a match. Maybe he did some La Liga matches on ESPN2? He didn’t have much play-by-play work after ESPN lost the rights to the Champions League. Press pass on espn soccernet is worth a listen, so I’ll still hear him in the USA.

  6. Sad to see this, Rae was far and away the best soccer commentator on American television.

  7. POB says:

    The very talented, always enjoyable Mr. Rae was in Scotland last year as well commentating for ESPN UK. Anyone know if this is a more permanent move than last year’s stint in Scotland?

  8. Kevin says:

    So Adrian Healey is our best British PBP man now?

    God help us.

  9. Daniel Feuerstein says:

    Let’s not forget he was the original announcer for the New England Revolution matches and one year for the MetroStars. He is one of my favorite announcers on ESPN for Football.

    I wish him well & I hope he enjoys himself back in the U.K.

  10. CR7 says:

    No real surprise, what was Rae gonna commentate on if he stayed? MLS?

    If they had the Champions League, it would be loss.

  11. Jose says:

    I too am glad for him, but at the same time sad to see him leave.

  12. Patrick says:

    I vote they shell out some money for Chris Kamara, I loathe MLS commentators.

  13. Cantona says:

    well im keeping my fingers crossed that we see him with SPL on ESPN3… and we will probably see him doing some FA Cup matches… maybe even Carling Cup Matches..( I think they got some of those rights from Setanta UK)… those should show up in the US in some shape or form.


  14. Sm says:

    Agree with the first comment, Rae got a bit of a raw deal during the World Cup and didn’t get to call as many matches as he should have, particularly in the knockout stages. There were several instances where they easily could’ve gone with a Tyler/Darke/Rae rotation, and instead they went just Tyler/Darke. Good luck Mr. Rae, your phenomenal narration was probably lost on most American ears anyway (said the American).

    • Keith says:

      This is a bummer for us (US soccer viewing audience).
      Unless they get in somebody of quality to do CL, I’ll be watching the matches with the volume down & my music on.

      Sry, but we need some imports, the US announcers are well…
      The best one I can remember was…
      Lame-O the Magnifico!

  15. CR7 says:

    Yeah Keith, he’s wasnt doing CL coverage here in the states.

  16. djpower says:

    For someone living in Australia I am very sad, I have listed to him for years commentating matches every weekend, Even though his presence last session was greatly reduced due to his commitments in the UK he was still very involved in mid-week Champions league games will be sadly missed down here, he is scheduled to be on Press Pass up to the 26th of July I am sure he will make some form of announcement on here

  17. Mike says:

    Derek gets on my nerves with his over-enunciation of words, but he knows his stuff and he does an honest legit job of broadcasting and covering football. Good for him, our loss.
    Unlike most American media, Rae loves football and doesn’t rely on bad cliches and the same tired crutches when he’s broadcasting.
    Here’s my rant on American media coverage of soccer. I’d love to get some comments.

  18. djpower says:

    I emailed Derek Rae thanking him for all his work he has done on ESPN over the years

    Thanks a lot for the kind words. It has been a great privilege to broadcast to Australia for so many years and I hope some day the chance comes my way again. I still have fond memories of being in Sydney for the decisive qualifier against Uruguay in 2005.

    Some of my commentaries will still end up on Australian screens and I hope Press Pass will invite me on as a guest from London now and again.

    Many thanks for getting in touch.

    Best Wishes,

  19. Hillow Hassan says:

    Wonderful Derek Rae, great commentator with history. Great opening remarks at european champions league nites. I have listened to Derek for many years and enjoyed his understanding of the club/player history, trends. He has mastered excellent pronunciation of names in all dialects.

    UCL will certainly miss him

    Good luck

  20. Hilda says:

    Fantastic work on commentating UCL. I have been listening to Derek Rae for years on UCL. I especially enjoy listening to the afterward comments during semi and finals. His poetic way of commentating will forever be missed.

  21. Derek , what your thoughts on this website

    Seems like one of the old ESPN PUNDITS its swindling/conning old people out of their pensions savings !

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