Play-By-Play Commentator, Soccer
Ian Darke, a top British sportscaster, joined ESPN in September 2010 as its lead soccer voice in the United States. Darke came to ESPN from Sky Sports, where he was a soccer and boxing commentator for the London-based sports network since 1992.
At ESPN, Darke has been the lead play-by-play voice on ESPN U.S. networks for Barclays Premier League matches from 2011-2013, the U.S. National Teams (Men’s and Women’s), 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, the UEFA European Football Championship 2012 in Poland and Ukraine and the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Darke, who made his ESPN debut in 1994 as one of the FIFA World Cup commentators for ESPN and ABC, returned to the lead role for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil where he commentated on the tournament’s opening and final matches as well as all four U.S. Men’s National Team matches in the competition.
Darke has voiced some of the seminal moments in televised soccer in the U.S. during the past four years. 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 during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
At the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, Darke brilliantly captured the game-changing moment during the USA-Brazil quarterfinal match when U.S. forward Abby Wambach scored a miraculous header in the 122nd minute of play. He also provided commentary for the eventual USA vs. Japan final – the most-watched soccer match on ESPN, seen by an average of 13.5 million viewers.
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 Sports, 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 called many high level matchups between Premier League superpowers Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea at Sky Sports.
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.
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 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.”
In the United Kingdom, Darke is the lead football commentator for BT Sport, covering the Barclays Premier League and other major European leagues.
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