In this pervasive age of soccer coverage, I’m an unusual creature. If I’m not attending a live match in England, I very rarely watch the beautiful game on screen even when it’s my own team. I much prefer radio coverage, finding the personalities and pundits a little more erudite than their high definition brethren. For me, radio reporting and analysis tends to comes across much more organically and relaxed, without the slick pre-planned and glossy pressure of being on screen.
Being on the English side of the Atlantic, I’m in a privileged position amongst the World Soccer Talk readers. And it’s with great pleasure that I use this to recommend you search out a relatively new pundit who hit the airwaves over here recently this season. As is the fashion, he’s an ex-player and unapologetically I’m pleased to say he spent a significant chunk of his career at my club, Stoke City. That said, that’s not the reason for my recommending that you keep an eye or an ear out for him.
Several weeks ago, Danny Higginbotham announced his retirement from club football and has made a conscious decision to try and develop a second career in the media, while at the same time still playing for a national team (more about that later). He has been writing a column in The Sentinel newspaper for the past 18+ months and has had guest spots across various television and radio shows, including the institution that is the BBC’s Football Focus.
I listened recently to a midweek show on Talksport when Danny was co-hosting with their regular presenter Ian Danter. The show was interspersed with updates from a variety of games at various levels across the country. The impression given is that Danny is very at ease with the medium, is knowledgeable about the game using his own experiences to support his point of view and argument, and delivering very succinct opinions without appearing to try too hard.
People have raved over the performances of one of Higginbotham’s peers, Gary Neville, where he appears on the admittedly consistent and excellent Sky Monday Night Football show. I may be considered biased given his connection to the team I support, but given what I’ve heard so far, Danny could more than hold his own at that level. When the likes of Robbie Savage (loud and a little bit of a self- publicist) and Danny Murphy (falling into the MOTD trap) are given plenty of opportunity, I feel it will not be long before they have a competitor to argue with.
All in all this is an area where given modern technology, we can all benefit from the leaps forward being made by broadcasters in their choices of personality to debate the games and stories that evolve from them. I thought it worth pointing the World Soccer Talk readers in the direction of a pundit they many may not have chanced upon yet and heartily recommend him as an ex-pro with a point worth listening to in my opinion.
Praise for Higginbotham is particularly timely given he’ll likely play for Gibraltar on Wednesday against Estonia. He may have hung up his club football boots after playing for several clubs, including Stoke City and Manchester United, but he still is willing to prove his mettle for a new footballing nation.
Danny can be found on Twitter @Higginbotham05.