Behind The Scenes

Healey and Palomo find common ground on “Goalllllll” vs. “Goollllllll”!!!!

ESPN soccer play-by-play commentators Adrian Healey and Fernando Palomo have been logging many hours preparing for and calling matches during Euro 2012. Healey, in English, and Palomo, in Spanish, each have their own styles. But whether it’s “Goal!” or “Gooool!!” both share the same passion for the game, even if their delivery methods are different. Front Row sat down with both announcers to discuss their techniques.

ESPN soccer analysts Adrian Healey and Fernando Palomo have different approaches to the same call.

What commentators influenced you, and what did you take from their deliveries (if anything) to develop your own style?
Healey: Though I’ve spent most of my adult life in the U.S., my influences are from growing up in England in the 70s and 80s: Barry Davies and John Motson from BBC and Brian Moore of ITV. I took something from all of them and melded it into my own style. They had an incredible knack for adding to the sense of drama unfolding in any game and mirror the ebb and flow with their own commentary.
Palomo: I haven’t by design let myself be influenced by any particular voice, but they play a part in my delivery. Growing up, my mentors were local radio personalities and Americans like Al Michaels, Howard Cosell and Jim Lampley. The way they were able to transmit emotions without losing their elegant cadence is something I always try to imitate. This is not me being arrogant, but I didn’t want to copy anyone in Spanish, or let it influence anything I do.

Is there a call (aside from one of your own) that is particularly memorable to you?
Healey: I love calls that seem to come from nowhere but match the occasion perfectly: Davies with his “Interesting, very interesting!”. Moore with his “It’s all up for grabs now.” Motson would do a variation on “Oh, I say!” for really special goals.

The “Gooooool” call is a trademark of Spanish-language commentating. How important is it for you to incorporate that into your delivery?
Palomo: Soccer game calling is a very different beast in Spanish because [Hispanics are] passionate in the way we do pretty much everything. The goal call is what stands out in the game, and what resonates in peoples’ minds for a long time. There’s a high level of concentration involved in it, and you try and coincide with the quality of the goal.

How do you balance your excitement for the play with your professionalism in order to deliver quality moments?
Healey: Goals are scarce in soccer. That’s what makes them so special, and the calls so thrilling. The best soccer commentary is like the pianist accompanying the school choir. The audience is not there to see you, but if you’re not there, you‘re missed. If you play out of tune, it can ruin the whole experience. Goal calls are your solos, and you just hope to find the right notes when those moments arrive.

Palomo: I’m never a fan of a team, but of playing styles, and I’m a fan of football. It’s inevitable to be soaked in by a team’s style of play, but I’m for the broadcast and the broadcast quality, though objectivity is a myth. It’s never achievable – you’re a product of your influences.

Fernando, you’ve done some soccer analysis in both English and Spanish. Is there any difference in how you prepare, or in the information you deliver to the viewer?
Palomo: No, to be fair. I’m more conscious of what I’m saying in English than in Spanish, and try to keep it simple because English isn’t my first language. In terms of the game, there was the sense a few years back that you needed to explain more about the game to the American viewer, because it was a game perceived to be far from their range. I believe that perception has changed. We talk to the fan.

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