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"Collymore closing in!" - Martin Tyler recalls some of the greatest Premier League games he's commentated on

Martin Tyler
(Image credit: PA Images)

Martin Tyler was there at the start. He's there for every Super Sunday. He is the Premier League.

The flagship commentator of Sky Sports has punctuated nearly every great moment that the division has ever seen. He's watched far more football than most of us and he's got paid to do it - the lucky thing.

BEST PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYERS EVER 100 greatest footballers in England's top flight since 1992

We thought we'd ask him about some of the greatest-ever games that he's had the pleasure to commentate on. It's still the best league in the world. It's still Tyler's playground. And... it's live!

Liverpool 4-3 Newcastle United (April 1996)

“This is the best game I’ve ever commentated on. It had everything that would attract you to football: drama and significance, because both teams were going for the title. People forget that Liverpool were, too.

“It was a rollercoaster match – Liverpool scored after a couple of minutes, but didn’t lead again until stoppage time when Stan Collymore closed in...

“On the night I remarked, ‘This is one of the greatest games ever,’ so it isn’t just hindsight. During lockdown, I watched it again with my son – he’d never seen the match and said, ‘Yeah, you’re not wrong’. He would have told me if I was!

“We had to be moved on from the ground afterwards – we’d been in the presence of greatness and didn’t want to go home, so myself, Andy Gray and the producers stopped at a pub on the outskirts of Liverpool to keep the moment going.

“Then, 18 years later, I was at the opening game of the 2014 World Cup and was going up in the lift to my commentary position with Collymore. As the doors opened, somebody came into the lift. He spotted Stan and said, ‘You! You cost me a Premier League winner’s medal!’ It was Tino Asprilla. I didn’t know he spoke that much English.”

Newcastle United 5-0 Manchester United (October 1996)

“A day when absolutely everything went right for the Magpies. Philippe Albert now works for Belgian television, and this game is always the starting point of a conversation with him.

“I didn’t commentate on the match in the previous season when Man United won 1-0, which was such a significant game in the title race. Peter Schmeichel was a hero that night, then he conceded five here.

“It was quite early in the season and nearly the final hurrah for ‘The Entertainers’ – Kevin Keegan left less than three months later. We thought we were looking at the champions. In the end, we were – they lost 5-0.”

Chelsea 2-3 Arsenal (October 1999)

“This was just astonishing – particularly the goal that sealed Nwankwo Kanu’s hat-trick, after Arsenal had been 2-0 down with only 15 minutes left. Kanu wasn’t the fittest, but over a short distance he was exceptional.

“His late winner from an outrageous angle showed great technique and fantastic belief – he wasn’t trying to find an easier option, although for him the shot was presumably quite an easy option! It was cute from acute.”

Tottenham Hotspur 3-5 Manchester United (September 2001)

“Lightning struck twice for Glenn Hoddle in the same year – twice his team squandered a 3-0 lead and I had to interview him on both occasions! He was Southampton’s manager when they lost 4-3 to Tranmere in an FA Cup fifth round replay. Glenn’s a good friend of mine and I wasn’t supposed to interview him that time, but unfortunately Clare Tomlinson banged her head on a crush barrier and had to go to hospital.

“Against Manchester United, Dean Richards scored on his debut – it was really sad what later happened to him, passing away at 36.

“Once United scored their first goal after half-time and got the bit between their teeth, you could see the fear. Spurs let them back in, then I had to go and interview Glenn. It took him a while before he came out to talk.”

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham Hotspur (October 2008)

“All commentators like games with lots of goals – the skill isn’t finding the words, it’s keeping up with it. Arsenal were 4-2 up with two minutes to go, before Jermaine Jenas and Aaron Lennon scored.

“Harry Redknapp had just been appointed at Spurs and David Bentley scored a brilliant early goal, but my memories of that match are of the spectacular finish.

“I’ve always called the Premier League the league of late goals – it’s a useful phrase to pull out if the game’s tailing off a bit, but this match lived up to the billing.”

Manchester City 3-2 QPR (May 2012)

“I stand by the words I was lucky enough to find at the time – ‘I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again’. Mark Hughes was the QPR manager – I saw him the next day at the LMA dinner, and he told me Sergio Aguero’s goal was the noisiest moment he’d ever heard in a football ground.

“When Aguero took a touch, I knew he was going to score – if it allowed me to get some air into my lungs to scream, ‘Agueroooooo’, I’ll never know! I’ve been doing the job since 1974, and it was a moment that all of those years had prepared me for. It was Aguero’s moment, it was Edin Dzeko’s moment and it was Man City’s moment. My commentary just happened – I didn’t do it for effect, I did it because I love football and you simply react to what happens.

“It was an exceptional scenario, although not unique – people have made comparisons with Arsenal’s victory at Anfield in 1989 and Brian Moore’s famous words, and England’s 1966 World Cup win with Ken Wolstenholme. To be on that list is very humbling. I was lucky to have the mic – and as a former manager said to me months later, ‘At least you didn’t mess it up’.

“I haven’t spoken to Sergio about it, but apparently he does an impression of it! Part of me would like to stand there on the pitch, exactly where he did it, and say, ‘This is how it happened – I know what it means to you, and this is what it meant to me’. If he asked me to talk about it, I’d be only too pleased, but I don’t want to initiate it.

“I’d also like to mention Tony Mills, Sky’s match director that afternoon, because the pictures were astonishing and don’t get all the credit they deserve. That shot of Joe Hart running around like a lunatic straight after Aguero’s goal summed up the mayhem.”

Leicester City 3-1 Everton (May 2016)

“I used to say Arsenal’s Invincibles season in 2003-04 was the great achievement of the Premier League years, but then Leicester won the league by 10 points. It was emphatic, and a journey that lifted the spirits of even the most cynical football people.

“We actually had some sound issues when they lifted the trophy at home to Everton – fortunately I just got my line out as captain Wes Morgan held it up. Afterwards, Leicester’s players didn’t want to leave the pitch – if they hadn’t had other responsibilities in their lives, they’d probably still be celebrating at the King Power Stadium now.”

Tottenham 2-1 Manchester United (October 2017)

“This was Tottenham’s last match at White Hart Lane, and they went through their final season there unbeaten.

“The closing ceremony was amazing. They brought out former managers and legendary players, and it was a historian’s delight. I was flattered to be asked for my notes from the match, to go into a time capsule under the new stadium – I don’t know if they ever got there, but I handed them over!

“Then, right before the end of the closing ceremony, it rained and there was a rainbow starting in the old ground and finishing in the new stadium. That really was perfect.”

Leeds United 1-1 Manchester City (October 2020)

“People might be surprised about this, and maybe it won’t be remembered because of the scoreline, but those who saw it will never forget it. Two visionaries, Pep Guardiola and Marcelo Bielsa, were just so full of attacking ambition. Every time the ball turned over, the other team went straight on the offensive.

“Apparently Bielsa said he didn’t feel Leeds played very well, but that view wasn’t shared up in the commentary box! Myself and Gary Neville kept thinking, ‘Wow, here they come again, isn’t this fantastic?’

“Neither team deserved to lose. I wish the game hadn’t finished.”

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