Andy & I haven’t signed new contracts. And well done Martin Tyler - simply the best.

Published: Saturday, 17 June 2023

I awoke this morning to a flurry of messages - all congratulating me. It made a very pleasant change - but I wondered what I’d done.

I’ll get back to this, but I first want to pay tribute to Martin Tyler - the greatest football commentator of all time. Yep. I’ll say it again - the greatest football commentator of all time.

I read today (Saturday) that Martin is stepping back from his role at Sky. I say ‘I read’ because I haven’t checked with him and I know I can’t believe much, if anything, that is published these days - especially when it comes to me.

David Coleman - my favourite. I grew up listening to him. Brilliant broadcaster. Brian Moore - a shouter in his early career, but he evolved to become a very good anchor and smooth commentator. Barry Davies - there’s always a place for someone ‘different’. For Davies read Jon Champion now. Excellent. Motty - Cup Final Motty - if he told you something you knew it to be true. These guys were a staple diet for my generation - they were giants.

But Martin stands head and shoulders above them all. Why? Because he did it in a far more demanding era and was ‘live’ as he used to love to shout before the pre kick-off break. He stumbled across its use one day when he was being hurried along - and stuck with it. It was good. He liked it. So did his bosses - not that that mattered. He’d have carried on saying it if he wanted to. 😂

Martin grew up with the guys I’ve mentioned above - always using his elbows to try and make space for himself. I’ve seen him do that on a football pitch a few times as well. I used to partner him up front - with Jim Rosenthal the other side. Tyler was Nout Workhorse to my more cultured Teddy Sheringham. 😂. To be fair - he got a few more goals than Workhorse, but many of them thanks to my silky contributions.

Eventually he got his chance to be No1 with us at Sky. He was brilliant. A true pro. He would always find the right words at the right time - ‘Bould - through to Adams (goal) that sums it all up’. What an Arsenal season that was. Arsenal - his favourites.

He never stopped - game after game after game. There was a time that we tried to stop him - for his own good - because he was doing too much. But we couldn’t. And no-one will now he’s stepping away from Sky.

It’s because he did it all ‘live’ that makes him the best for me. All the other guys got a chance to wildtrack - do the voice again when they’d made errors - Moore in the ‘80 Cup Final when he failed to notice that it was Trevor Brooking that had scored. That’s just one example - but they were always at it - every week.

Martin didn’t get that luxury - although for years he sat next to Andy Gray - the greatest co-commentator of all time - and Andy would pick up the odd mis-call. Tyler/Gray has never been matched, let alone bettered.

Martin will never stop commentating. I’d expect to see him to be behind a mic at his own funeral!

You were the best Voice. By a mile. Oh - we called him Voice because he definitely didn’t have a face for tv.

Now - quickly back to a story in The Mail today they Andy and I have signed new deals to stay at beINSPORTS. No we haven’t. Nothing has changed. When we get back on air with another PL season in August it’ll be on exactly the same terms - on the same deal - that we’ve been working on for the past decade or so.

Where do these stories come from? Why doesn’t anybody bother to check? Check just once - let alone check again when you’ve done that - as I’m always telling the guys.

I’m immensely proud to still be working - working for and with people I care for deeply. The ‘with’ - a group of highly talented people at beINSPORTS - the The ‘for’ - my Qatari bosses.

I’ve loved every minute of working and living in Qatar. It’s a gorgeous little country to whom I owe a great debt. My Qatari bosses have always been there for me - one in particular, who I now count as a close friend. Qatar is home - and I was proud to have been a defender of its right to take a place at football’s top table last December.

I’m proud to still be working at my age - although if Martin is the benchmark there’s plenty of time yet! But it’s not on a ‘new’ deal. It’s on the same deal.

Oh - and I’ll keep filing - but only on an occasional basis during the summer. Only when I see or hear something they really annoys me. Hold on…..that would mean writing something every day! Back to plan A