Stories

How I ended up speaking to James Richardson on African TV by mistake

Premier League TV

What better way to spend your holidays than pretending to be from Lagos and chatting with some of the biggest names in football media? 

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It's a snow day. I've got the day off school and I get a random Skype message from an account called Premier League Fanzone. I've never heard of it. I think it's a scam but play along because I’m bored.  

12:59pm, phone pings.

Premier League Fanzone: Who do you support?

Me, playing along: Manchester United

Fanzone: Would you like to be on the show 3:30 UK time?

Why on earth do they want me to come on and how have they found me?

I go along with it anyway, YouTube the show, and it turns out that it's the Premier League's global call-in programme broadcast twice daily and shown in over 70 countries over Africa and parts of Asia.

I receive a test call 10 minutes later from one of the producers, who goes along with James from Lagos, Nigeria. I'm white and ginger and about the furthest you can get from being Nigerian. I live in a small rural village outside of Cardiff.

“Er, hi James, you'll be on at 3:45 UK time”, adds that my connection is all good and then hangs up.

Guy Goma

I'm now sat in the study balancing my phone against some books as a makeshift tripod. I'm still so confused by how I got here, but I’m playing the game. 

*incoming call – PL Fanzone*

I’m not going to lie: at this point I was shitting myself a bit. I hadn't told anyone about this (obviously). What if someone walked in? What if the doorbell rang or my phone went off?

I answer. “OK James, you're up next.” This is my Guy Goma moment. I have absolutely no right to be here at all. Still not a clue what's going on.

The Skype call was broadcasting the show, and who’s presenting it? Only bloody Golazo himself, James Richardson. Now, honestly, I’m too young to have appreciated Football Italia but based off Twitter nostalgia it looked great. Batigol, Gascoigne and Weah. Mint.

“OK, our next caller is James in Lagos, Nigeria.” I'm trying not to laugh. This is ridiculous. How on earth does anyone think I'm in Nigeria? My pasty face is on a massive TV screen in the studio. We have a nice conversation about how great Marcus Rashford was against Liverpool last season and he moves on.

This story doesn't end here, though. Of course, it was soon registered that I wasn't from Nigeria but they actually quite liked me, so I 'move house' to Toronto and spend my summer holidays going on African TV talking to Phil Neville, Leroy Rosenior, Alex Scott, Robbie Savage and Don Hutchison.

This is ridiculous. I'm asking the teachers in school whether I can go to the toilet to do test calls on Skype, then run home for 3:30pm to get home just in time for the show.

This went on for about six months up until Christmas, when the fun finally stopped. For six months, though, I was Guy Goma – and I loved it.

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