It was only 2019 when Maurice Edu formally announced his retirement from professional soccer, but in that short time, he has already worked for FOX Sports and TNT in covering everything from the US Men’s National Team to the UEFA Champions League.
Typically, former pro footballers take more time to settle into the world of broadcasting, but Edu has hit the ground running. With a professional soccer resume that has included Stoke City, Rangers, Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union, as well as the national team, Edu has plenty of experience to draw upon.
While in Atlanta, I sat down with “Mo” Edu to chat about his life as a broadcaster.
Christopher: What team did you grow up supporting as a kid? Were you into soccer at a young age and which teams did you follow?
Maurice (Mo) Edu: Yeah, at the moment it’s sucks to be saying it, but Arsenal.
Yeah, I grew up an Arsenal fan. It’s one of the first things that I played for, in my youth days was a team in California called Arsenal. And when I was growing up, there weren’t that many games on TV. It was hard to get games on TV. And my dad, he coached within the same club Arsenal. And so one of the parents on his team, they would record the games for us and so he’d bring them home. And so that was the first team that I watched consistent games of and kind of got into them, and then since then just been supporting them.
But obviously as you grow up and you start to watch more games, obviously you’re attracted to certain styles of play and certain players. And so I’m still an Arsenal fan, but obviously Messi is the best player I’ve ever witnessed and best player I’ve ever played against. So there’s that natural attraction to watching Barcelona and seeing just him, wow, on a consistent basis.
Christopher: So you’ve done an incredible job in terms of just improving in the short period of time, with doing tons of reps, but your tactical analysis and your observations are really on point.
Mo: I appreciate that.
Christopher: Is that something that you learned from any mentors? Or is that you observing, or?
Mo: Yeah, from a tactical standpoint, I try to just call it how I see it. How I articulate it or things that I’m a little bit more focused on, I think that just comes from reps and learning from the people that I work with it. Stu (Holden) has been involved in this for awhile, so before I initially got my feet wet, I talked to him a lot about what his experience was like initially. The process in terms of prepping for games and all that kind of stuff, but the tactical stuff or just anything that comes out of my voice is just my opinion. Just how I kind of see the games and my interpretation of what I see from teams, what I think football should look like.
And I think the biggest thing that coming into it and then also still now is just making sure that growing, I want to continue to grow. I don’t want to plateau. I want to continue to… Whether it’s presenting myself in a different way or in a better way, a more consistent way, continuing to grow over the course of this experience for me.
Christopher: Do you have a preference to being the studio analyst or co-commentator?
Mo: I think initially I always thought studio, but then I called a few games and I was like, “Man, being in the venue,” and that’s the closest you’re going to get to playing. Being able to soak up the atmosphere and take in the stadium and as a player, sometimes you don’t get to fully appreciate what the atmosphere is like because you’re tuned in and zoned into what’s happening on the pitch and the next play and just being dialed in to the moment.
So that part of it, I thoroughly enjoy being in a stadium, being able to bring my own personality. When you’re calling a game, your personality has to show completely through your voice, which I struggled with in the beginning. So to answer your question, which do I prefer? I’ve done a lot more studio, so that’s become a little bit more comfortable for me, but I enjoy both. I thoroughly enjoy both. I love being in the studio, the banter sometimes back and forth. I’m a person who talks through facial gestures and expression, so that part I think helps me to come across the way that I want to come across. But again, calling a game, the big moments, the big plays, some of the bigger games, that part of it, it’s hard to replicate.
Christopher: Yeah. Especially when it’s live.
Christopher: You’re talking about being in the moment versus, say, half time analysis or post-match analysis where you’re given time to reflect. It’s not that spontaneous reaction.
Mo: You get that genuine feel. You’re wowed by a play, you’re wowed by a goal, you’re wowed by a special moment and it just comes off very authentic and genuine because as you said, you don’t have time to prep for it or to sit there and think about it and take notes. It’s just boom, spur of the moment. How do you feel? Convey that emotion and what you’ve seen as quickly as possible. The biggest thing for me is I want to come across as me. I don’t want to sound like anybody else. I don’t want to be per-se “a broadcaster.” So I want to be me. I want my voice and make sure that it shows through and that my personality shows through. But obviously I want to make sure that I’m doing a good job of it.
Christopher: Yeah, the viewer then can better relate to someone who’s talking about human emotions rather than someone who sounds robotic or being just canned or cliched. It’s someone giving their heartfelt opinions or observations that we can feel… that the viewer can really take as being authentic. And it does make a big difference.
Mo: Yeah, and I mean it’s no knock on anybody else. For me personally, I don’t think you’d probably ask anybody who’s in this space, and that’s probably important to all of them because you want to separate yourself from everybody else, right? There needs to be something about you that is different.
And for me personally, I just want to make sure that my voice is always authentic and is true to me. I don’t want to come across sounding like anybody else, I want to just come across sounding like me.
Christopher: You often get picked on on the show. It’s banter, whether it’s Kate passing you up. It’s fun for the viewer. How is that chemistry built? Is that something that you guys got hanging out together a lot? And are you always the one who gets picked on? (laughs)
Mo: (laughs) No. I’m definitely not always the one that gets picked on. I know what it is. I think on camera maybe they take advantage of that, but no, it’s a good group to be a part of. And I’ve known Stu and Tim (Howard) for a while and then I’ve known Kate more recently than the other two.
But it’s a good group to be around. And for me, I think that’s what helped me early on is being around and working with people that I’ve known for a while, it helps to ease your nerves, to make it a little bit more of a comfortable environment for you to just be yourself. But it’s fun. The banter, I’m glad that it’s coming across well on camera, but when we’re sitting here watching the games or prepping for the show, it’s on a consistent basis. It’s just non-stop.
We all chime in on it. And the thing that I think is special about this group is that we genuinely enjoy each other’s company and I hope that that translates and conveys itself on camera as well.