Sometimes in life, serendipity happens when you least expect it. Before the FIFA 2010 World Cup, Landon Donovan was recognized as the best soccer player the US had ever generated. Likewise, Ian Darke already had a very successful career as a commentator. He was one of the most recognizable voices of Premier League coverage, especially in the early days of Sky Sports.
And then one moment happened that lives in the infamy of soccer fans in the United States. A goal was scored.
Of course, it wasn’t just any goal. It was a late winner for the United States against Algeria in the final game of Group C. If Donovan hadn’t scored it, the United States was going home, but that single goal in the 91st minute catapulted the US into first place, and through to the next round.
Not only was the goal one of the most important the United States has scored in its World Cup history, but the commentary of it was out of this world. Commentating for ESPN at the time, the energy, passion and pure relief in the voice of Ian Darke crystalized the moment. “GO GO USA.” Even now, it sends shivers down my shine.
Landon Donovan and Ian Darke meet again
This week, World Soccer Talk spoke with Landon Donovan to delve deeper into his memories of that goal call, and his unique relationship with the man who called the goal for viewers in the United States:
“I saw [Ian Darke] a few months back when we were doing practice matches,” Donovan said. “I was excited to see him because of that [goal call].
“Having someone that iconic call a goal that meant so much to me is really special. It actually makes the goal even better than if it was somebody who was brand new and had never [been] heard of. So, I’m really proud that he was able to experience that too.”
To develop their chemistry and to get some reps in, Donovan met Darke in Los Angeles where they practiced working together. One of the games they called was the England-Germany UEFA Nations League game from September 2022.
“Being with Ian Darke is such as blessing because he’s so good,” added Donovan. “It’s exciting to work with him. I’ve been a big fan forever of his work.”
Photo credit: IMAGO / Icon Sportswire
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