A comprehensive guide to English soccer TV commentators and co-commentators

 

TIM HOWARD

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. 

 

RAY HUDSON

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. 

 

COBI JONES

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.

 

IAN JOY

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).

 

KASEY KELLER

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.

 

MARTIN KEOWN

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. 

 

KEVIN KILBANE

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. 

 

BRIAN LITTLE

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.

 

BRIAN McBRIDE

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.

 

STEVE McMANAMAN

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. 

 

DANNY MILLS

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.

 

DANNY MURPHY

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.

 

GARY NEVILLE

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. 

 

GARY O’REILLY

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. 

 

MICHAEL OWEN

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.

 

DAVID PLEAT

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. 

 

DAVIE PROVAN

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.

 

NIALL QUINN

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.

 

STEWART ROBSON

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. 

 

ALAN SMITH

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

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.

 

DAN THOMAS

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. 

 

ANDY TOWNSEND

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. 

 

CHRIS WADDLE

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. 

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