via press release:
Top UK Commentator Ian Darke Joins ESPN as Lead Soccer Voice in the U.S.
Darke’s ESPN Premier League Debut Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET (Manchester City vs. Chelsea)
Top British sportscaster Ian Darke, one of the lead commentators during ESPN’s critically acclaimed coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, will join the network as its lead soccer voice in the United States, it was announced today by Jed Drake, senior vice president and executive producer, ESPN Event Production.
Darke will be the primary play-by-play voice on ESPN’s U.S. networks for Barclays Premier League matches, the U.S. National Teams (Men’s and Women’s), marquee Major League Soccer events, 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He joins ESPN after commentating on Premier League and UEFA Champions League matches for the past 18 years. Darke was widely praised for his work on ESPN during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, especially for his commentating on the U.S. Men’s National Team matches vs. Slovenia, Algeria and Ghana.
“Having Ian Darke as our year-round signature voice for soccer programming reaffirms ESPN’s commitment to elevate our overall coverage of the sport in the U.S.,” said Drake. “Ian’s experience, authenticity and passion for the sport, which were evident throughout the World Cup, will resonate with our viewers, who have come to expect top-quality soccer commentary from ESPN.”
Darke added: "I am delighted and excited to be joining such a polished and talented team as ESPN. It was wonderful to be calling the USA’s dramatic World Cup campaign for American audiences – and I am flattered to be asked back on a permanent basis.”
Darke’s debut as ESPN’s signature voice for soccer will be Saturday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 a.m. ET, when he’ll provide play-by-play commentary for Manchester City vs. Chelsea, live from the City of Manchester Stadium. In his new role, Darke will be in the booth live from Barclays Premier League match sites each week for ESPN’s U.S. audience – a first for the network. His co-commentators (analysts) for each ESPN soccer programming series will be announced at a later date.
Ian Darke biographical background:
Darke began his broadcasting career at a regional BBC Radio station – Radio Leicester – in 1975. He moved to BBC’s national service in 1979, where he covered soccer, boxing and athletics. At BBC Radio, Darke’s distinctive voice, and passionate but measured style of commentary, earned him public acclaim, and he quickly built a profile as a premier boxing announcer in the English-speaking world. He covered the 1978, 1982 and 1990 FIFA World Cup events for BBC Radio and Eurosport.
In 1992, Darke joined Sky Sports as one of the network’s soccer commentators. At Sky, he enjoyed a successful career providing commentaries for the Premier League, UEFA Champions League and the Football League, as well as serving as the network’s lead boxing commentator. He has called many high level matchups between Premier League superpowers Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea.
In addition to his work with Sky, Darke’s voice has become familiar among international soccer from his commentaries on the Premiership’s international broadcasts for Trans World International (TWI). He has also served as a primary host of TWI’s weekly magazine show.
During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Darke worked for ESPN, commentating on matches for its U.S. audience. His style of commentary, infused with restrained passion, timing and pacing, captured the imagination of fans enthralled by U.S. team’s come-from-behind effort in a 2 – 2 tie vs. Slovenia, and in their next match, a stoppage time goal in a 1–0 victory over Algeria. In 1994, Darke was one of the FIFA World Cup commentators for ESPN and ABC in the U.S. (To listen to Darke’s memorable call of Landon Donovan’s winning goal vs. Algeria, click here: http://bit.ly/aCCEOb)
Along with being known as a great soccer commentator, Darke is also considered one of the UK’s most respected boxing broadcasters. He has been ringside at major fights such as Muhammad Ali vs. Larry Holmes at Caesar’s Palace (1980), Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns (1985) and others.
Darke, a trained journalist who started began his media career working with regional newspapers in the United Kingdom, writes a weekly column for his hometown (Portsmouth) paper, The News, titled “The Darke Side.”