Four matches in four cities, two countries, two flights, 1,333 miles travelled and 24 interviews – that was a typical week recently, working as a journalist when European football is on the schedule. I still have to pinch myself that I get to call it work.
“Where are you off to this week, then?” is a question I get asked a fair bit – the answer is never the same. That’s one of the greatest parts of being a football broadcaster. Every day is different – there’s always a new story to tell or another stadium to tick off the list.
Working so close to the action across a week of Premier League, Champions League and Europa League football could only be described as busy. It’s loads of fun, and as a football fan, where else would you rather be than in the thick of it, at the stadiums, interviewing the managers and players at the heart of the drama?
During one week in November, TNT Sports’ Saturday Premier League game was Fulham against Manchester United. On Friday, I did my usual preparation for every fixture that I work on, watching press conferences, going through wads of match statistics and having meetings with the producers.
We arrive on site very early on Saturdays, with Early Kick-Off, live at 11am, a 30-minute show I present from around the ground. At Craven Cottage, we filmed on Stevenage Road, in the dressing rooms, from the brand new Riverside Stand and pitchside.
That show ends at 11.30am and I quickly switch into reporter mode for the match itself, racing to the interview room to discuss the all-important team news with Erik ten Hag and Marco Silva.
Manchester United won the game in injury time thanks to a Bruno Fernandes strike, so my task on the full-time whistle is to dash on the pitch and chat to the matchwinner, then it’s back down the tunnel to grab as many interviews as possible.
Soon my preparation starts for the week’s Champions League games. Manchester City against Young Boys was on the agenda that Tuesday, so there were sit-down interviews with Rico Lewis and Pep Guardiola scheduled the day before the match.
But prior to that, a train from London to Manchester to attend the Football Writers’ Association managers awards on Sunday evening. Erik ten Hag, Vincent Kompany and Darren Moore were among those to receive honours, and it was a lovely and very rare opportunity to catch up with a host of other journalists and broadcasters.
The next morning, it was back to the day job at City’s Academy Stadium, where Lewis and Guardiola were in good spirits ahead of what proved to be a routine victory at the Etihad the following night. That made it 11 consecutive seasons in the knockout stages for City, a record that Guardiola himself was fizzing with excitement about.
Attention then turns to the Europa League – that week, there was an early flight from Manchester Airport to Amsterdam to cover Brighton’s away trip to Ajax. As a Seagulls fan, I didn’t mind the early alarm for that one! Once I arrived, it was almost straight to the Johan Cruyff Arena to interview Joao Pedro for Thursday’s programme.
Walking into that stadium and seeing the photos on the walls of Cruyff and all of the trophies that Ajax have won, I was taken aback. They’re not at their highest level this season, but for Brighton fans who can still remember the League Two days like they were yesterday, it was massive to get a first ever away win in Europe at the home of the four-time European champions.
By the morning, I was on a flight to London, then motoring up to Wolverhampton for the visit of Tottenham in the Premier League. The breathless finish to that game, with Wolves scoring twice late on, summed up my week. It can often be unpredictable, exciting and totally keeps me on my toes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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