Peter Drury wouldn’t mind working on Kenyan Premier League
“Nobody ever tunes in for the commentator. They turn on for the match. It is not your match, it is for everybody else.”
These are the sentiments of celebrated English football commentator Peter Drury who has captured the minds and souls of fans around the world due to his poetic lines that leave them in awe.
The 53-year old, who worked with British network ITV Sport, is the lead commentator for Premier League Productions as well as BT Sport on their FA Cup and UEFA Champions League coverage.
On Monday night, Kenyans got a rare chance to see the face behind the voice when Drury spoke to K24’s Shon Osimbo via Skype.
The interview, which had a massive following, saw Drury speak about his journey into football commentary, the coronavirus pandemic, Kenyan Premier League, English Premier League, his poetic lines and yes, that match between AS Roma and Barcelona two years ago.
“Roma have risen from their Ruins! Manola, the Greek Gold in Rome! The Unthinkable unfolds before our eyes.This was not meant to happen, this could not happen, this is happening!.”
Remember that? That was part of Drury’s commentary when Greek Kostas Manolas scored AS Roma’s third goal against favourites Barcelona in the 2018 Champions League quarter-final.
Having trailed 4-1 from the first leg in Barcelona, Roma won 3-0 at home to sail through to the semi-final on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate score.
It was one of the greatest comebacks in recent history, but few remember Manolas’ goal as Drury’s lines are still fresh in their minds to date.
It is just one of Drury’s many memorable lines the other notable one being in an English Premier League match pitting Liverpool against Arsenal where he said: “Coutinho trying to score the Firmino goal after Firmino scored the Coutinho goal,” before then saying; “Sadio Mane trying to score in colour when black and white would have done” in the same match.
To Drury, these poetic lines come naturally in the heat of the moment although a lot goes into preparing for a match.
“It was a strange night. I’m was very relaxed because Roma had no chance of coming back. The same night Liverpool were playing Manchester City and that was the much bigger game.
I was relaxed because I was expecting a small audience. It wasn’t until Roma scored the penultimate goal that I thought if they’re were to score again, we would be in for something special then I changed gear.
When the ball went in for the third goal, the first line I used to cover a few seconds because I was not sure who scored the goal.
The background I knew about Manolas being Greek then came into play after that,” explained Drury.
It is perhaps the reason Drury wouldn’t mind working on any game, including a Kenyan Premier League match if the chance presented itself.
“As I said about the (English) Premier League, I could say the same about any league. It is about a narrative, the excitement, the jeopardy of a game, what it means if team ‘A’ wins or loses a match.
What the supporters feel and what matters to them. Teams in the local league have a relationship and the same fan banter and rivalry will exist in any league. It would be fascinating to learn about those dynamics,” he adds.
The English Premier League has been working on modalities of resuming the when it is safe to do so through wha has been dubbed ‘Project Restart,’ and while Drury cannot wait for action to return, he is vouching for safety first.
“It is a perplexing time for all of us football lovers. The world is in a strange place but the absence of football or sports as a whole is the least of our problems as we fight this pandemic.
This is a big miss for me, it is a major passion of mine and I am keen to see the game return. I cannot wait to see someone kick a ball again,” he says.
While he looks so refined and a master of his craft, it took a lot for him to reach where he is. At the age eight, Drury knew he would not be good at playing football and chose to talk about it instead.
“In my early 20s, I started to pursue commentary seriously and I got a big break with a local radio, BBC UK and the lucky breaks kept on coming.
I have been fortunate to be at the right place at the right time,” he said, adding: “This is a job like any other and I have to prepare before doing commentary for any match.
On average, I spend a day preparing for a match. Statistical preparation, facts, history of the teams and players, recent meetings and the context of the match.”
Drury’s years in the game have seen him work on a number tournaments including the Fifa World Cup, Euro, English Premier League, Champions League and Cup games.
In that time, he has worked alongside a number of co-commentators but it is partnership with Irishman and former Liverpool left-back Jim Beglin that has been lauded the most.
“We are like an old couple now. We finish each others sentences. He turns for a game thoroughly prepared with organised thoughts and ready to deliver.
He always has something useful to say. It is exciting to work with him,” says Drury of his chemistry with Beglin.
With the fame he enjoys and everything he has achieved, Drury still remains humble and has advice for up-coming commentators.
“I would tell them to be authentic, that is really the important thing. Be yourself. Do not pretend to be someone else, do not mimic someone else.
Just be who you are. Have the humility to listen and learn from other people but have the confidence in yourself to execute your work the best way you can,” he said.
For now, ‘The Poet’ is enjoying spending more time with his family as he waits for if or when action will resume.