One of the often-overlooked reasons why the Premier League is the world’s most popular sports league is the expertise of the commentators. Whether it’s the commentators or co-commentators (aka color commentators), the men bring the Premier League to life in our living rooms and in pubs on a weekly basis.
But who are these men, and what are their backgrounds? Find out below in our guide to English soccer TV commentators and co-commentators. And where available, we’ve included videos and links so you can familiarize yourself with their voices and accents.
In alphabetical order
English commentator Steve Banyard used to always have the 12.30pm ET Saturday timeslot to commentate on a Premier League match alongside co-commentator Gary O’Reilly. While Banyard doesn’t still have the same automatic timeslot each week, he still can be heard commentating Premier League matches. While he’s not a household name, his voice will be familiar to many readers.
The English announcer often flies under the radar despite his weekly slot as one of the commentators of Premier League matches. While Beck does a credible job as a commentator, he doesn’t have a very memorable voice. At least, not yet.
Phil Blacker may be a somewhat familiar voice to the more well-trained ear of Premier League supporters who have heard his commentaries on IMG.
Bower began his soccer commentating in the early 90’s as a radio reporter for a Liverpool network. He started out doing Liverpool, Everton, and Tranmere Rovers games until moving to the Manchester United Network in 1998. After nine years with United’s network, Bower began commentating Premier League, FA Cup, and Europa League for Setanta Sports. Bower recently made the transition to the BBC to become one of the voices of Match of the Day. The former MUTV commentator has made appearances on NBCSN too, both as a commentator and presenter.
To me, Peter Brackley’s voice is best known as a commentator of FA Cup matches, particularly in the early rounds of the competition where league minnows try to upset the giants of English football. His voice is synonymous with classic English football commentary.
Champion’s classy and relaxed speaking style makes listening to the matches he works very comforting. While some casual American soccer fans may have just gotten their first listen of Champion during the 2014 World Cup, the York native has been doing Premier League, FA Cup, and League Cup commentating for ESPN UK since 2009.
Englishman Ian Crocker appears regularly as a commentator for Sky Sports and via the TWI/IMG world feed for Premier League matches aired around the world, as well as UEFA Champions League games on Sky Sports. His enthusiastic commentary style makes him stand out from the crowd of other English announcers.
Darke, one of the fan favorites in America, began working for ESPN in 2010. The Englishman also started commentating for BT Sport (sometimes simulcast on the NBC Sports Network) during the 2013-14 Premier League season. Darke’s smooth way with words and mellifluous voice make him one of the best announcers in any sport.
JP is a veteran US soccer commentator, who has announced so many legendary USMNT games including the 1-0 victory by USA against Trinidad and Tobago that sent the US team to the 1990 World Cup, as well as the 1999 World Cup Final when the USWNT beat China on penalty kicks to become world champions. Nowadays, Dellacamera can be found on FOX Sports.
Since joining ITV in 1998, Drury has been seen as a respected and knowledgeable reporter. Drury has commentated on the UEFA Champions League as well as several FIFA World Cups.
Englishman Ross Dyer was a mainstay on the beIN SPORTS network where he was commentating Championship playoff finals, international friendlies, League Cup games and much more alongside co-commentator (and fellow Brit) Ian Joy. However, this season, he’s taken on a role with FOX Sports and ESPN. One of his responsibilities at FOX will be hosting FOX Soccer Plus’ MultiMatch 90 service for UEFA Champions League games.
Hawthorne’s name is synonymous with mid-week UEFA Champions League coverage. The ITV commentator can often be heard on US airwaves when FOX Sports uses the UK feed instead of the world feed.
While Johnson isn’t the most beloved soccer commentator around, no one can take away his enthusiasm in the booth. The Detroit native has spent the majority of his sports casting career working basketball and (American) football games, and is fairly popular in announcing these sports. Although he still does basketball and football games for FOX Sports, the network has tried its best to ease Johnson into the soccer world. With Johnson somewhat unsuccessfully working UEFA Champions League matches for the last 18 months (although working with Eric Wynalda doesn’t help), it was no surprise when he announced he was quitting as FOX’s lead commentator in September 2014 to focus on college football and college basketball instead. However, FOX Sports says he may return in a cameo role to announce more soccer games in the future.
Nowadays, Tony Jones is a frequent commentator on Premier League matches for IMG, which are heard on the international feed around the world. Jones has an easily recognizable voice, and can be found commentating plenty of other games including internationals. Based on the number of times we get to hear him, he’s got to be one of the hardest working men in the business.
Sports commentator Richard Kaufman can be heard announcing soccer matches when he isn’t too busy commentating on golf for various media outlets. Some readers may remember him from his days presenting and announcing on talkSport. Listen to his demo reel.
British soccer commentator Bill Leslie has been in the business for many years, working in radio before joining Sky Sports and Setanta. He also has experience commentating UEFA Champions League games as well as announcing Scotland games, even though he’s English!
The young English commentator was one of the surprise stars of the 2014 World Cup where he put in a stellar job announcing games for ESPN. Nowadays, he can be found commentating a Premier League game each weekend.
“Motty” is one of the most famous English commentators in the business. However, most soccer fans in the US haven’t had the opportunity to hear him. That’s because he now commentates for BBC’s Match of the Day program. Out of all of the commentaries he’s done for the BBC, one of his most famous ones was his call of the Hereford-Newcastle United FA Cup game from 1972 when Hereford knocked the Toon out of the tournament.
Mowbray is a staple of BBC’s Match of the Day program, where he lends his commentary to a different game each week. Mowbray has an easily recognizable voice.
Besides Martin Tyler, Jon Champion and Peter Drury, Alan Parry has one of the most recognizable voices in English soccer. The Liverpool-supporting soccer commentator can often be heard behind the mic, announcing some of the biggest Premier League games every Sunday.
Among some soccer fans, Jonathan Pearce is a cult hero. He’s a commentator that many soccer fans identify with — whether it’s in his early days as a radio commentator for Capitol Gold or BBC, or as a TV commentator on Channel 5 and BBC’s Match of the Day. His unmistakeable voice makes him an easy one to pick out from a soccer broadcast.
For those with trained ears, Proudfoot has an unmistakeable accent. As well as commentating games on television, he can often be heard on talkSport Radio.
Derek Rae is one of the most respected soccer commentators in the United States for his memorable UEFA Champions League commentaries he did for ESPN (when the “Worldwide leader in sports” had the rights to the UCL competition). Rae is a perfectionist in what he does. He proactively researches the correct pronunciations of player’s names, and always goes above and beyond to ensure that he delivers a quality broadcast.
For years, Mark was a familiar voice for viewers of Fox Soccer Channel where he would often provide voiceovers and lead-ins for many of the network’s biggest soccer games. But in recent years, Mark Rogondino has been used far more often in front of the TV camera as he commentates soccer games for FOX Sports. His area of specialization is women’s soccer games.
US commentator Phil Schoen has the distinction of commentating the first-ever MLS game on television. Nowadays, Schoen is the lead commentator for beIN SPORTS where he can be heard announcing La Liga and Serie A games alongside co-commentator Ray Hudson.
Even though he’s a regular commentator for the Premier League matches each weekend on the international feed, Joe is less well known as other commentators. But as soon as you hear his voice, he sounds very familiar.
Stowell is a commentator at MUTV, Manchester United’s official TV channel, but he also commentates games for the Premier League and Champions League. The challenge is that his voice isn’t especially unique, so he’s a tougher one to pick out when hearing soccer commentaries (unless he’s on MUTV).
Somewhat of an up-and-comer in the sports casting world, Strong started out working Portland Timbers games in 2010 for FSN Northwest. After becoming the Timbers play-by-play announcer, Strong officially moved to the NBC Sports Network in 2013 to be one of the lead commentators for both the MLS and Premier League matches. Strong also previously worked Europa League games for FOX Sports. The Oregon native is very well liked around the sport, and is viewed as one of the top American lead commentators.
Taphouse is the type of English soccer commentator who has the quintessential English accent, delivers a consistently pleasing commentary and packs a lot of emotion in his voice whenever there’s something exciting to share. Taphouse is a Crystal Palace supporter.
Tyldesley has been a regular commentator for ITV since 1998, following the retirement of Brian Moore, and has called 17 Champions League finals and nine FA Cup finals for the network. While he has his critics, Tyldesley has won the Royal Television Society Sports Commentator of the Year award four times since 1998. The Manchester United fan as a child provides solid match analysis while at the helm for ITV.
Also one of the most respected play-by-play men in the world, Tyler was voted as the Premier League Commentator of the Decade by fans in 2003. Arsenal fans will always remember Tyler’s call on Tony Adams’ goal in the north London team’s win over Everton in 1998. Tyler exclaimed, “and it’s Tony Adams put through by Steve Bould… would you believe it?!” The famous phrase was later put up on a wall at Emirates Stadium.
Weaver is another TV soccer commentator who may be more well known from his radio work than behind the mic on TV. He commentated Manchester United games for Century FM, but now can be heard doing Premier League matches for the international feed each weekend.
White, Ted Lasso’s “favorite lead commentator,” has been NBC Sports Network’s head play-by-play man for the Premier League since the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign. Prior to working Premier League matches for NBC, the Leicester native was the voice of the Seattle Sounders and called matches during the 2012 Olympic Games for the American network. White’s “golden, velvety, yummy” voice makes him one of the better commentators on television.
The former Tottenham Hotspur centre forward offers a no-nonsense style of commentating. The East End-born co-commentator has an unmistakable voice, with his gruff, East End (London) accent. The well-traveled professional has managed Tottenham (as a caretaker manager), as well as playing for numerous clubs during his playing career.
The cheery Londoner co-commentates games for FOX Sports now and again when he isn’t doing his studio work. The former footballer used to play for Newcastle United, as he regularly reminds his audience.
As a former Ireland and Liverpool player, Beglin’s voice may be familiar to most readers from the video game Pro Evolution Soccer (PES). Recently, Beglin has announcing games now and again for NBCSN to help fill in for Arlo White.
The former Nottingham Forest footballer can be a bit dour to listen to at times, and can be boring. His unmistakable voice makes him stand out from the crowd, however.
Out of all of the co-commentators, Mark Bright is one of the fastest talkers. The former Crystal Palace and Liverpool footballer has a one-of-a-kind voice among co-commentators, so he’s easily recognizable with his squeaky voice. Unfortunately he doesn’t appear as a co-commentator for Premier League games that often anymore.
The former Charlton manager can be seen and heard on Sky Sports News more often than as a co-commentator for Premier League matches, but Curbs does make an appearance now and again. He’s pleasurable to listen to, but don’t expect any thoroughly revealing insights.
The former Arsenal right back can be heard on both ITV in England and NBC Sports in America (on Saturdays). The Telegraph newspaper recently gave the pundit an A- rating for his work on the World Cup and called Dixon “a man expected to be eclipsed by the starrier names surrounding him, and yet – on closer inspection – turning out to be better than any of them. (Dixon is) lucid, insightful and not afraid to offer assertive opinions.”
Donaldson has an unmistakable Scottish accent and keen eye for the game. Whether he’s commentating Bundesliga games for ESPN International or co-commentating World Cup or European Championship qualifiers, Donaldson is a pleasure to listen to.
Currently a guest on Football Dynamics on Bloomberg Africa, Ekoku is a respected pundit and former player. Picked by ESPN to deliver coverage of the 2010 World Cup, Ekoku works with Premier League Productions and is able to give unique perspectives on games as a English-born Nigerian.
The former English footballer, who has the distinction for being the first-ever million pound signing in England when he moved from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest, has the annoying habit of being too critical on players after they make mistakes (he should have headed it on target, he should have dribbled it past the keeper, etc). However, lately he’s been much improved and a lot easier to listen to.
The professional goalkeeper has started co-commentating Premier League matches for IMG during the 2013/14 season, and so far the American is doing adequately. He’s reserved and understated, but Friedel has a lot of wisdom to share particularly about goalkeeping and his experience in big game situations. Friedel will hopefully grow into the position in the near future.
The former West Ham United footballer is another Englishman who does double duty for Sky Sports News (as a studio analyst) and for TWI/IMG as a Premier League co-commentator for the world feed. His London accent can be mistaken for Paul Walsh, but if you listen closely, you’ll be able to hear the differences after a while.
The former Everton and Scottish footballer used to be the number one co-commentator in the world for his expert analysis alongside Martin Tyler on games for Sky. However, after a series of scandals, Gray found himself at beIN SPORTS alongside presenter and friend Richard Keys. In the past two years, Gray has made a couple of co-commentary appearances for BT Sport, which were well received by the majority of fans.
Journeyman striker Don Goodman, now retired from playing professionally, specializes in commentating Football League matches but can be found from time to time co-commentating Premier League matches for TWI/IMG’s world feed.
The former Premier League footballer is a keen observer of team tactics and formations, and is able to explain in a lot of detail the strategies that teams are employing on the pitch. Higginbotham is a more talkative co-commentator than average, so expect to hear a lot of insights and observations from the ex-pro.
The former Manchester City, Everton and Sheffield Wednesday footballer is becoming more of a regular on Premier League co-commentaries each weekend. Hinchcliffe is a keen observer of tactics, nuances and where teams are weak or strong, and is able to clearly communicate these observations with the viewers. Hinchcliffe is one who is growing on me.
Shaka brings a TNT (Trinidad and Tobago) flavor to his co-commentaries for soccer games on ESPN. The former West Ham United, Newcastle United and Portsmouth goalkeeper can be heard co-commentating European Championship qualifiers (among other games). In a world of English accents, Shaka’s Trinidadian accent is a breath of fresh air.
Just like Trevor Francis, Barry Horne can be annoying when he reactively criticizes players after they make mistakes (he should have aimed the ball at the other corner of the goal, he should have passed the ball to the other player, etc). Horne can often be found co-commentating games involving Everton or Swansea (and previously Cardiff, when they were in the top flight). But when teams are making fewer mistakes and playing well, Horne can be tolerable to listen to.
The former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland footballer has a distinct accent that makes it easy to recognize his voice. Houghton is your no-nonsense, old-school, straight talking co-commentator.
The United States men’s national team and Everton goalkeeper recently signed on with NBC Sports to work up to 10 Premier League games in the booth during the upcoming season. Howard supplied commentary for seven Premier League matches last season for the American network, and while at first seemed a bit quiet during his first few matches above the field, the 35-year-old did start to loosen up after getting more experience with the microphone.
Love him or hate him, Ray Hudson is one of the most unique soccer commentators in the business. His love of prose can he heard in the way that he describes how the beautiful game unfolds in front of him. Hudson’s style can often mimic an open mic night, where he combines interesting turn of phrases to create what can be best described as his own flavor of English language.
Brian McBride and Cobi Jones are both in the category of fantastic footballers who have found it difficult to adapt to being as versatile as co-commentators. Both are improving in their new roles, although McBride has made more gains than Jones. It’s hard not to like Cobi, but he has a long way to go before he can be considered an expert in his field as a co-commentator.
The former St Pauli and Kidderminster footballer is a familiar voice to people who listen to co-commentary on beIN SPORTS, where his Scottish accent sticks out like a sore thumb (in a good way).
Keller is another in a long line of American goalkeepers who have decided to dip their toe in the water to co-commentate games (joining Brad Friedel and Tim Howard, just as two examples). Keller isn’t the most analytical of co-commentators, but when the topic comes to goalkeepers, he’s one of the best in that department.
From time to time, you can hear the former Arsenal defender co-commentating Premier League games. He’s able to share his expertise as a former footballer to describe what players are feeling in high-pressure games. Since he doesn’t co-commentate games that often, it’s a pleasure to hear his work when he is on-air.
The former Everton footballer appears now and again on the international feed for Premier League games. He brings a former player’s perspective to his analysis of matches, which is a welcome addition since he only retired in 2012.
GRAEME LE SAUX
Le Saux, the former Blackburn and Chelsea left back, is usually found next to Arlo White as NBCSN’s first choice commentator for the Sunday matches. Le Saux works well with White, and is clear, insightful and articulates his thoughts well. Before becoming an NBC commentator, Le Saux worked for the BBC as a pundit on the television show Match of the Day 2.
The former Aston Villa manager has a noticeable Geordie accent, but it’s not as rough as Chris Waddle’s accent. In his co-commentary style, Little calls it as he sees it. What you’ll hear is straightforward and consistently reliable commentary.
McBride enjoyed a successful career on the pitch as a striker for the Columbus Crew, Fulham, and the Chicago Fire. Following his retirement as a player, McBride joined FOX Sports as a pundit and color commentator for international friendlies and UEFA Champions League matches. The American provides solid punditry and breaks down the game fairly well. McBride also offers a level head in the FOX studio.
The former Liverpool standout can occasionally still be seen on ESPN doing World Cup, Confederations Cup, and international friendly matches next to Ian Darke; however, BT Sport signed McManaman to do Premier League matches starting in 2013. The sometimes funny, sometimes pessimistic McManaman usually brings strong opinions and some humor to the booth.
The man from Yorkshire has a very unique accent. When he speaks, it’s rather monotone and he sounds uninspired, but if you listen closely to the former Leeds United footballer, you’ll often hear a lot of wisdom. Mills is used sparingly in Premier League commentaries, but when he does make an appearance, it’s often for a high-profile game on a Sunday.
Murphy is a relatively new entrant to the world of soccer commentating, but his style of being over opinionated may be his Achilles heel at the moment. For example, during a recent game, he blasted Newcastle United’s Ayoze Perez and said he wasn’t good enough for the Premier League and that he should be substituted. In the second half, he scored the matchwinner against Tottenham Hotspur, and then proceeded to score the winner in the club’s next game against Liverpool.
The former Manchester United right back is as good of a studio analyst/pundit as he is being a co-commentator, which puts him in the category of one of the best in the world. It’s not often that we get to hear him on US television, but when we do, it’s often a high-profile UEFA Champions League game. Perhaps his most memorable call was the orgasmic cry after Fernando Torres scored on the counter attack to wrap up the victory against Barcelona.
The former Crystal Palace footballer isn’t featured as a co-commentator as much as he usually is, but when he is working a game, he often shares a lot of solid observations regarding what players are doing wrong (in terms of positioning, marking, etc). He has an easily recognizable voice too.
While Michael Owen was a legendary footballer, his skills as a co-commentator are awful. It’s a combination of stating the obvious or saying something ridiculous that puts Owen on the list of one of the worst co-commentators in the business. Thankfully, most of his work is for BT Sport, so those in America don’t get to hear him too often.
Pleat is a storyteller. During live commentaries, the veteran co-commentator will often reminisce and tell stories of how he discovered certain players who are playing on the pitch. The stories can be quite informative at times, but after hearing dozens of his commentaries, his trait can start to become a little annoying at times. Still, Pleat is one of a kind and often can be heard commentating Tottenham Hotspur games (one of the former clubs, of many, that he managed) on Sundays.
Now that Craig Burley joined ESPN recently, Davie Provan is one of the few Scottish experts left who is co-commentating the Premier League on a weekly basis. He can be heard every week with his easily recognizable voice. Just like Burley, he isn’t afraid to pull any punches when giving his analysis on-air.
The former Irish professional footballer and manager can often be heard giving his analysis on co-commentaries for UEFA Champions League matches. His co-commentary is consistently good, and his Irish accent definitely is a plus.
Robson, a former Arsenal and West Ham midfielder, has provided commentary for ESPN during FA Cup matches and was heard next to Jon Champion during the American network’s 2014 World Cup coverage. The polarizing Robson is not the most well-liked pundit working in the business (at least by Arsenal fans), but if you listen closely to him, he reads the game so well and often shares a lot of pearls of wisdom that will open your eyes to the game. Robson often commentates Bundesliga and Serie A games for broadcasters in Europe, so his knowledge of players from around the world is quite impressive.
The former Arsenal striker can often be heard co-commentating UEFA Champions League games for Sky Sports (which FOX Sports often uses instead of the world feed). Smith is calm, cool and collected, and has a very recognizable voice.
Dean Sturridge is another one of those former footballers who has transitioned into the role as a co-commentator. He can often be found co-commentating Premier League matches via the international feed each weekend for IMG.
The former Real Madrid TV man is the host of ESPN FC, the daily soccer news and analysis show out of the US. Born and bred in England, Thomas can be heard commentating games now and again —whether it’s European qualifiers or Liga MX matches.
It’s surprising how much work the former Republic of Ireland footballer gets given how cliche-ridden and annoying his co-commentary can be, at times. However, he’s often co-commentating Champions League games and international games for the UK broadcasters, and can be heard on US television from time to time. While he played for Ireland, he’s English through-and-through. But to me, is an example of an overrated co-commentator. I’m not sure what people see in him. Even readers in the UK agree with us in the US of A.
There’s no mistaking the Geordie accent of former Newcastle United and England winger Chris Waddle. In his commentary, he’s more likely to romanticize about the past than modern football, discussing the glorious days of 4-4-2 and players dribbling past defenders. Never short of opinions, when he does commentate, he often ends up doing Newcastle games for the world commentary feed.
Walsh is one of the hardest men working in commentating and football punditry. He can be heard every weekend when he co-commentates a Premier League match (often on Mondays when he’s teamed with Martin Tyler). But he can also be seen and heard on Sky Sports where he provides analysis on other weekend matches. Walsh has a heavy London accent, which can often be mistaken with Tony Gale’s voice.
The former England and Manchester United footballer seems to rely on co-commentating and pundit opportunities when he isn’t coaching Chelsea (as an assistant) or national teams abroad. As a co-commentator, he’s inconsistent. He’s had some woeful UEFA Champions League co-commentaries, but he can be astute at times when reading the game and sharing observations that viewers may not see.
For a while, Winterburn was appearing as a co-commentator for many of the high-profile Premier League matches beamed around the world via the international feed week-in week-out. While he hasn’t been featured as much anymore, his unmistakeable voice as well as propensity to talk on and on make him stick out like a sore thumb when he’s behind the mic.
The former Arsenal striker was a legend for the Gunners, but he tarnished his co-commentating skills when he was saddled with Gus Johnson on FOX Sports. Surprisingly, Wright was worse than Johnson, which is saying a lot. The motor mouth has improved since then, but he still has a lot of work to do to earn back the respect of a lot of soccer fans.
While some may say, “save the best for last”, this is certainly not the case in this scenario. Wynalda has been featured in the booth alongside Gus Johnson during Champions League matches in the past, and also in the studio as a pundit for FOX Sports. The former American international is constantly negative, has radical opinions, and provides almost zero meaningful insight.
Additional research by Christopher Harris.