Martin Tyler was on the verge of permanently losing his hallowed voice, but surgery in 2023 kept one of the most prominent commentators in the business. Having been behind the microphone for many games at the World Cup in Qatar, Martin Tyler returned home with a sore throat. Initially, he attributed his issues to hay fever, the climate of the Middle Eastern nation and the rate at which he was calling games, often by himself.

Yet, the throat issues lingered. Tyler would not speak for an entire day before belting out commentary for the Premier League each week. When the issues became too much, an investigation into Tyler’s throat found keratosis. These lesions and white patches on Tyler’s vocal cords came from the growth of the same protein found in skin and hair follicles. An operation successfully treated the keratosis, but Tyler’s road to recovery was not as easy as calling games soon after.

“I couldn’t answer the phone, couldn’t talk for a sentence,” Tyler told the BBC. “It was a slow process to recover from the operation.” The Englishman went on to credit his full recovery to National Health Services speech therapist Elissa Finn, who worked with Tyler in different ways to bring his voice back.

He returned to the commentary booth in October with Premier League Productions. He regularly features on Monday Night Football. At the beginning of his recovery process, Tyler was doing just one game a month as his voice was at its weakest. Now, he regularly calls two games in two days, much like he did in Qatar.

Martin Tyler said surgery to save voice came after ‘frightening’ revelation

“My voice is my identity – it’s the hub of my life,” Tyler said. “It didn’t mean anything to me before – but it now means not taking my voice for granted.”

That was Tyler’s fear. Originally, he thought this was something that would pass. However, further examination revealed that, had he continued to commentate games with such regularity, he could have permanently lost his voice. It was not the loss of his profession that scared Martin Tyler the most. Instead, it was the potential inability to talk to family and friends. That demonstrates the severity of Martin Tyler’s throat issues from the busy World Cup season.

Finn, the speech therapist Tyler worked with, said the commentator was partially right in his assumption that working the World Cup in Qatar contributed to his issues. She told the BBC that dry climates, allergies and long flights can cause dryness and irritation. Tyler would have been subject to each of those in addition to calling multiple games per week during the World Cup.

Back in the commentary box

Fortunately, Martin Tyler had that successful surgery that allowed fans to experience his iconic voice. Initially, people complained that Tyler’s voice was not as peppy or vibrant as it once was, but this provides a clear explanation as to why that was. He could not have spoken with the same enthusiasm without risking his voice.

Now that he is at full health, Tyler is working the Premier League and UEFA Champions League with different broadcasters. He has plans to continue his commentary work into the future, despite his age of 78. For fans, hopefully that can deliver more iconic calls.