Ian Darke’s contract extension brings praise from his ESPN colleagues

Since joining ESPN for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Ian Darke has, through his work, endeared himself to soccer fans in the U.S. In and beyond the broadcast booth, the legendary soccer play-by-play commentator is also beloved by his co-workers.

Ian Darke (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
Ian Darke has agreed to a contract extension with ESPN through 2020.
(Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Following news of Darke’s contract extension with ESPN through 2020, Front Row caught up with some of his mates on the ESPN soccer content team.

Bob Ley: “Ian is not simply the consummate pro, and a good friend, but he’s the guy at the bar sitting next to you while you watch the match together, describing it as you’d want to talk about it with your buddies. He brings this rare gift to his commentary, with a commanding knowledge of the game and an approachability that reaches out to embrace the viewer. I can’t work with him enough.”

Julie Foudy: “This is such great news as Ian is just so darn good at what he does…He has this incredible ability to bring out the best in games, using his knowledge of how the game flows and his wit to keep the viewer engaged. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him over the years. This is a big win for ESPN and viewers of the great game here in the U.S.”

To fans, [Darke] is approachable and relishes the opportunities to engage with them about the game, which is what makes him such a great ambassador, not only for the game, but our coverage of the game.
– Matt Leach, Ian Darke’s on-site producer

Matt Leach (Darke’s on-site match producer): “I’ve had the privilege of working with Ian since 2011. He is often lauded for his commentary, his turn-of-phrase and ability to match fans exuberance in the big moments. While I share in the praise of his professionalism and talent, I always enjoy the time we spend together off the air. He is such a genuine, lighthearted, fun person to be around, someone who sincerely cares for the people working with him and ultimately the product we all put out together.

“To fans, he is approachable and relishes the opportunities to engage with them about the game, which is what makes him such a great ambassador, not only for the game, but our coverage of the game.”

Steve McManaman: “Ian is a consummate professional, an absolute legend in the football game but more importantly, a warm, generous and kind human being. He would do anything to help you. He is a true friend and I am really looking forward to travelling around France with him covering Euro 2016 games for ESPN.”

Taylor Twellman: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work and travel with Ian. I feel extremely lucky on a professional level that so early on in my career I got to watch and ultimately sit next to him while he does what he does. Calling a game with Ian is no different than sitting at the pub or bar watching the game. The friendship we have is something I really, really cherish and more importantly very grateful that we get the opportunity to continue to work together and ultimately enjoy some laughs.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 2013, ESPN produced this compilation of outtakes from Ian Darke and Steve McManaman during their three seasons (2010/11-2012/13) calling Premier League matches for ESPN’s U.S. audience.

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