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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