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Interview

Talking the talk

Darren Fletcher describes his duties as BT Sport’s lead commentator – and looks back on some career highlights

INTERVIEW Paul McNamara

How nervous do you get as kick-off approaches?

I don’t get nervous. I would for a Champions League final. What you do get is that little bit more keyed up. This is the competition that throws up the big nights, memorable games, a lot of drama. You always walk in and know to expect the unexpected. There is that little tingle, because these are the ones everyone talks about. 

How much responsibility rests on your shoulders to successfully convey that drama? 

I am quite fortunate because a lot of the drama is conveyed by the atmosphere, the game and the supporters. What you try to do is accompany that, rather than make it about what you are going to do. You have to get that balance right, rather than trying to take over what’s happening. I find these games enjoyable because I get sucked into it as well – I feel like a fan.

Darren Fletcher gens up on the gantry (top); the word 'comprehensive' springs to mind (above)

When do you head to the gantry – do you like to get there nice and early? 

When I am ready; when I feel it is right. I don’t like to sit up there too long, otherwise the edge is taken off. When I sit down we are ready, we are working; we are not messing about for half an hour. We have something to look at, the teams are warming up; I might need to identify somebody, see what they look like, if they are looking confident or not. Then, bang: we are ready. Some people like to be up there hours before – that’s not for me. 

Do you have any food and drink up there to fuel your efforts?

Three bags of sweets and tea – that keeps me going. 

How nervous do you get as kick-off approaches?

I don’t get nervous. I would for a Champions League final. What you do get is that little bit more keyed up. This is the competition that throws up the big nights, memorable games, a lot of drama. You always walk in and know to expect the unexpected. There is that little tingle, because these are the ones everyone talks about. 

How much responsibility rests on your shoulders to successfully convey that drama? 

I am quite fortunate because a lot of the drama is conveyed by the atmosphere, the game and the supporters. What you try to do is accompany that, rather than make it about what you are going to do. You have to get that balance right, rather than trying to take over what’s happening. I find these games enjoyable because I get sucked into it as well – I feel like a fan.

Darren Fletcher gens up on the gantry (top); the word 'comprehensive' springs to mind (above)

When do you head to the gantry – do you like to get there nice and early? 

When I am ready; when I feel it is right. I don’t like to sit up there too long, otherwise the edge is taken off. When I sit down we are ready, we are working; we are not messing about for half an hour. We have something to look at, the teams are warming up; I might need to identify somebody, see what they look like, if they are looking confident or not. Then, bang: we are ready. Some people like to be up there hours before – that’s not for me. 

Do you have any food and drink up there to fuel your efforts?

Three bags of sweets and tea – that keeps me going. 

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

What’s Steve McManaman like to work with?

Me and Macca have done millions of games together, so I know what he is going to say and when he is going to say it. I can tell from his body language that he is going to come in, so I step out. I know when he should be speaking and he knows when I should be speaking. I’m not going to make out that it’s complicated, because it’s not.

What are the best Champions League matches you’ve worked on? 

The back-to-back semi-finals in 2019. I doubt they will ever be topped, though the Madrid second leg against Manchester City last season pushed them damned close. I didn’t see that coming and nor did anybody else. Macca, for example, has seen everything – he has scored in a Champions League final – so trying to get him excited… he looks at me as if to say, “What are you going on about?” But even he shouted, “What are we seeing here?” It was absolutely mad. I have been in the Bernabéu a lot and it is my favourite stadium to commentate from; it is like being in a cathedral. And I’d never heard it like that – they’d always won or lost in a relatively straightforward manner. But that night, that place went up.

After Liverpool’s comeback against Barcelona in 2019, did you go into the Tottenham game the next day feeling a bit flat? 

I flew to Amsterdam the morning of the game. I was in the hotel when my wife phoned and said, “What a great night, what about tonight?” I said, “It’s not going to be like last night, Ajax are probably going to win.” At 2-0, you think it’s over. At half-time I am looking around the stadium, seeing Patrick Kluivert, Edwin van der Sar and the great and good of Ajax, and they are all singing away. I turned to [co-commentator] Jermaine Jenas and said, “I think they might have gone a bit early, there is a lot of football to play here. If Tottenham get the next goal…” And Spurs scored. 

What did that feel like in the stadium?

That was almost like a little click – it started to turn. They got the next one, then Hugo Lloris made two or three world-class saves. And the goal Tottenham got at the end: they could try that 100 times and you’d be able to count on one hand the number of times that move would be completed. Every pass was a stretch, a difficult touch – you’re thinking, “How has that got to him?” So many things happened where ordinarily it would have broken down somewhere. But it went in and the world stopped. I looked to my left and my co-commentator was in tears. I was thinking, “I’m on my own here.”

Games like that must be mentally exhausting.

You do get tired. It is the concentration. Like anybody else’s work, there are times you have to fully focus. But when you have been involved in a big night, a big game, you get that sense of euphoria that you have been part of something. It is a very privileged position to be in to be associated with that sort of night, even in a small way. I actually find the travelling more tiring than the game; going up and down the motorways. But I wouldn’t swap it for anything. 

How nervous do you get as kick-off approaches?

I don’t get nervous. I would for a Champions League final. What you do get is that little bit more keyed up. This is the competition that throws up the big nights, memorable games, a lot of drama. You always walk in and know to expect the unexpected. There is that little tingle, because these are the ones everyone talks about. 

How much responsibility rests on your shoulders to successfully convey that drama? 

I am quite fortunate because a lot of the drama is conveyed by the atmosphere, the game and the supporters. What you try to do is accompany that, rather than make it about what you are going to do. You have to get that balance right, rather than trying to take over what’s happening. I find these games enjoyable because I get sucked into it as well – I feel like a fan.

Darren Fletcher gens up on the gantry (top); the word 'comprehensive' springs to mind (above)

When do you head to the gantry – do you like to get there nice and early? 

When I am ready; when I feel it is right. I don’t like to sit up there too long, otherwise the edge is taken off. When I sit down we are ready, we are working; we are not messing about for half an hour. We have something to look at, the teams are warming up; I might need to identify somebody, see what they look like, if they are looking confident or not. Then, bang: we are ready. Some people like to be up there hours before – that’s not for me. 

Do you have any food and drink up there to fuel your efforts?

Three bags of sweets and tea – that keeps me going. 

Talking the talk
Interview

Talking the talk

Darren Fletcher describes his duties as BT Sport’s lead commentator – and looks back on some career highlights

INTERVIEW Paul McNamara

How nervous do you get as kick-off approaches?

I don’t get nervous. I would for a Champions League final. What you do get is that little bit more keyed up. This is the competition that throws up the big nights, memorable games, a lot of drama. You always walk in and know to expect the unexpected. There is that little tingle, because these are the ones everyone talks about. 

How much responsibility rests on your shoulders to successfully convey that drama? 

I am quite fortunate because a lot of the drama is conveyed by the atmosphere, the game and the supporters. What you try to do is accompany that, rather than make it about what you are going to do. You have to get that balance right, rather than trying to take over what’s happening. I find these games enjoyable because I get sucked into it as well – I feel like a fan.

Darren Fletcher gens up on the gantry (top); the word 'comprehensive' springs to mind (above)

When do you head to the gantry – do you like to get there nice and early? 

When I am ready; when I feel it is right. I don’t like to sit up there too long, otherwise the edge is taken off. When I sit down we are ready, we are working; we are not messing about for half an hour. We have something to look at, the teams are warming up; I might need to identify somebody, see what they look like, if they are looking confident or not. Then, bang: we are ready. Some people like to be up there hours before – that’s not for me. 

Do you have any food and drink up there to fuel your efforts?

Three bags of sweets and tea – that keeps me going. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

How nervous do you get as kick-off approaches?

I don’t get nervous. I would for a Champions League final. What you do get is that little bit more keyed up. This is the competition that throws up the big nights, memorable games, a lot of drama. You always walk in and know to expect the unexpected. There is that little tingle, because these are the ones everyone talks about. 

How much responsibility rests on your shoulders to successfully convey that drama? 

I am quite fortunate because a lot of the drama is conveyed by the atmosphere, the game and the supporters. What you try to do is accompany that, rather than make it about what you are going to do. You have to get that balance right, rather than trying to take over what’s happening. I find these games enjoyable because I get sucked into it as well – I feel like a fan.

Darren Fletcher gens up on the gantry (top); the word 'comprehensive' springs to mind (above)

When do you head to the gantry – do you like to get there nice and early? 

When I am ready; when I feel it is right. I don’t like to sit up there too long, otherwise the edge is taken off. When I sit down we are ready, we are working; we are not messing about for half an hour. We have something to look at, the teams are warming up; I might need to identify somebody, see what they look like, if they are looking confident or not. Then, bang: we are ready. Some people like to be up there hours before – that’s not for me. 

Do you have any food and drink up there to fuel your efforts?

Three bags of sweets and tea – that keeps me going. 

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

What’s Steve McManaman like to work with?

Me and Macca have done millions of games together, so I know what he is going to say and when he is going to say it. I can tell from his body language that he is going to come in, so I step out. I know when he should be speaking and he knows when I should be speaking. I’m not going to make out that it’s complicated, because it’s not.

What are the best Champions League matches you’ve worked on? 

The back-to-back semi-finals in 2019. I doubt they will ever be topped, though the Madrid second leg against Manchester City last season pushed them damned close. I didn’t see that coming and nor did anybody else. Macca, for example, has seen everything – he has scored in a Champions League final – so trying to get him excited… he looks at me as if to say, “What are you going on about?” But even he shouted, “What are we seeing here?” It was absolutely mad. I have been in the Bernabéu a lot and it is my favourite stadium to commentate from; it is like being in a cathedral. And I’d never heard it like that – they’d always won or lost in a relatively straightforward manner. But that night, that place went up.

After Liverpool’s comeback against Barcelona in 2019, did you go into the Tottenham game the next day feeling a bit flat? 

I flew to Amsterdam the morning of the game. I was in the hotel when my wife phoned and said, “What a great night, what about tonight?” I said, “It’s not going to be like last night, Ajax are probably going to win.” At 2-0, you think it’s over. At half-time I am looking around the stadium, seeing Patrick Kluivert, Edwin van der Sar and the great and good of Ajax, and they are all singing away. I turned to [co-commentator] Jermaine Jenas and said, “I think they might have gone a bit early, there is a lot of football to play here. If Tottenham get the next goal…” And Spurs scored. 

What did that feel like in the stadium?

That was almost like a little click – it started to turn. They got the next one, then Hugo Lloris made two or three world-class saves. And the goal Tottenham got at the end: they could try that 100 times and you’d be able to count on one hand the number of times that move would be completed. Every pass was a stretch, a difficult touch – you’re thinking, “How has that got to him?” So many things happened where ordinarily it would have broken down somewhere. But it went in and the world stopped. I looked to my left and my co-commentator was in tears. I was thinking, “I’m on my own here.”

Games like that must be mentally exhausting.

You do get tired. It is the concentration. Like anybody else’s work, there are times you have to fully focus. But when you have been involved in a big night, a big game, you get that sense of euphoria that you have been part of something. It is a very privileged position to be in to be associated with that sort of night, even in a small way. I actually find the travelling more tiring than the game; going up and down the motorways. But I wouldn’t swap it for anything. 

How nervous do you get as kick-off approaches?

I don’t get nervous. I would for a Champions League final. What you do get is that little bit more keyed up. This is the competition that throws up the big nights, memorable games, a lot of drama. You always walk in and know to expect the unexpected. There is that little tingle, because these are the ones everyone talks about. 

How much responsibility rests on your shoulders to successfully convey that drama? 

I am quite fortunate because a lot of the drama is conveyed by the atmosphere, the game and the supporters. What you try to do is accompany that, rather than make it about what you are going to do. You have to get that balance right, rather than trying to take over what’s happening. I find these games enjoyable because I get sucked into it as well – I feel like a fan.

Darren Fletcher gens up on the gantry (top); the word 'comprehensive' springs to mind (above)

When do you head to the gantry – do you like to get there nice and early? 

When I am ready; when I feel it is right. I don’t like to sit up there too long, otherwise the edge is taken off. When I sit down we are ready, we are working; we are not messing about for half an hour. We have something to look at, the teams are warming up; I might need to identify somebody, see what they look like, if they are looking confident or not. Then, bang: we are ready. Some people like to be up there hours before – that’s not for me. 

Do you have any food and drink up there to fuel your efforts?

Three bags of sweets and tea – that keeps me going. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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