WEEI>On Demand>>The Bradfo Show: Red Sox broadcaster Dave O'Brien reflects on announcing 2006 World Cup

The Bradfo Show: Red Sox broadcaster Dave O'Brien reflects on announcing 2006 World Cup

Jun 21, 2014|

Rob Bradford is joined by Red Sox broadcaster Dave O'Brien to reminisce about his stint as the man in the booth for the 2006 World Cup, working for both ESPN and ABC. O'Brien discusses the challenges of announcing such an enormous event, while offering insight into why he classifies the experiences as the most memorable of his career.

Transcript - will not be 100% accurate

It is nice secret. Not sore things that interest you -- I wish -- might just it's. Just sit there and still -- Rather it's off to another is the -- coach but as always like -- fool to think that those people. So dark. And -- there was. Speaking of -- with a lot of integrity we had Dave O'Brien. When voices of the cost of Red Sox from the WEI. Red Sox radio network in. Dave we talk every day almost everyday right. We do yes it and I always enjoy the conversation I look forward to them every dale -- then and it's not just because you're so well dressed up at. Well that it that makes it a little more comfortable be it for both of us an athlete yeah absolutely. But we were talking the other day and ice on you transfixed. On the World Cup up in the broadcast Booth -- it and I just thought you were soccer fan and that's fine is a lot of soccer -- and going on around. I had forgotten and I apologize for -- I had forgotten that you had called. The 2006 World Cup -- -- cracked that's direct TSA and ABC Afflalo was agency okay. Are right so this is this is a great conversation the World Cup obviously what the it's going on right now but USA. Wool played game on Sunday. And I. I im fascinated by what is like to call a World Cup because I got to imagine you do a lot of everything India related to -- with -- great aplomb. You do it that you had excellent fashion all across the board. But I have to imagine doing that was probably one of the more unique experiences of your life. The single most difficult thing I've ever done in my life in my professional life for sure. And probably rod because I I did not have seven raider nine or ten years. At the microphone calling soccer I had a handful of months as a run up to. The 2006 World Cup so I wasn't like one of these dyed in the -- soccer guys. I have played soccer in high school followed the game watch the Premier League. That was a fan kind of a closet fan when a lot of people were watching certain Israel but different now eight years ago it's not that long ago. But he is a long time ago in the development of the appreciation of the game in the United States in the way frankly the game is now brought to America. Via ESPN from Brazil as we're watching it now it's completely different than it was back that. So for me is a baseball guy as a basketball at football guy at the stick and ball guy. If they weren't terribly welcoming. I would say is soccer community was Ian tied gable Brian at a very big way and and did not really warmed to -- during that World Cup experience. But I will say this it was one of the greatest things have ever done. Had so much fun doing I think every American should see a World Cup on foreign soil to really appreciate. How the United States is looked at how the sport is looked at by the rest of the country in this country. And and sort of -- -- fight development to what we are now. Which is if not a soccer power I think we're certainly far more respected than we were even when I called World Cup. Well did he take -- back to when you got the word was that phone call was. This something you had kind of threw your hat hat in the ring and -- are being trusting do in this. It was in Germany we should make that clear as well at 2006 world couples and derby 2006 World Cup won by the Italy in -- in a great final over France that was the one where is that Don. Head butted an Italian player and was red carded. And they had to play short the rest of the match you really it was a a memorable and it happened right there in Berlin. At Olympia stadium. We're all. We're three gold medals were won by the greatest track and field athlete from my money but what an amazing experience but did so did did they call you did toward the did as they say did you throw your hat in the ring and how did I really I really I really didn't it's an interesting question because in in broadcasting is you know what we have to work for somebody to be on the year and I was working for ESPN doing. A number of different sports and they approach me and asked me if I had a soccer background I said yeah I kinda do. We're looking for an American voice on this one this World Cup would like to talk to you but being the lead announcer. And I I thought it was a great opportunity do something I'd never done before and I was kind of on the fence about it. For a little while and then I had dinner with my broadcast partner for baseball the time Rick Sutcliffe and he brought a gentleman by the name of Dick Denver along. And -- in -- Over a wonderful dinner of about three hours in New York City effectively convinced me hey you gotta do this year you're doing of these other sports. You need to you know try some new muscles try something else which he's done everything you can possibly do in sports. He's done basketball football Super -- horse racing boxing's every. To -- you know at this point in your career it's perfect for it. And I never regretted that for a moment then and that's when I went back to ES PNC yes I'll do it. It's a shoe which huge commitment. It's bigger than naming any of the commitment of ever -- in sports. And it was right in the middle of baseball season so I effectively had to leave baseball for about two months and to prep for it in to travel and spend all that type. ESPN's sent meeting when they sent me to Germany to call matches as a run up they put me a Major League soccer is a run up. By the by the way I think what fox is doing right now with Gus Johnson. They have named him as they have the next writes for the World Cup. In four years they've named him the lead voice and what they're doing is very Smart he's gonna put in five years. Of calling soccer matches while before he -- does the World Cup and I think that's the best way to do that lives. It is it is amazing the amount of preparation and in when you hear. -- -- review announcers -- bodies particularly when you're coming from different background you can see where that preparation pays off but. I go back to you talk about that but the Denver Edberg I go back to Al Michaels. Every time I hear that Olympic golf hockey game back in the US Russia. If the thing that strikes me about that isn't really the last call aids him this rattling off the name to the Russian players and it's an end. When so when you dive into this obviously you're preparing and you're going to pronunciation and all that but by the time you hit. The World Cup is it's second nature is it just so much preparation where it just rolls off the tongue like you did seem -- Al Michaels back then. Well I think. You know what Al had there was a real magical tournament in the United States winning that thing was so unexpected. A little bit like the Red Sox season of last year in this respect we didn't really see it coming and then it culminates in this so all time great sporting. Event and eventually the the winning of the gold medal. World -- a little bit different because. It there's so many more countries involved actually in that tournament great and so many more matches you get you know 64 matches all being -- I want -- doing twenty. And in about eight different venues around Germany little literally driving the Audubon. At about a hundred miles an hour you know from hombre to Frankfurt and then back to Munich and and over to Berlin -- it was. It was really the experience of a lifetime and and I think it because the game was not foreign to me but calling World Cup soccer was it was a learning experience from the very first moment. I had never sat in those seats before it never is the world cancel a bit different because you're actually in with the fans you're not in a broadcast Booth. There's a broadcast level but it's right there in the middle of 80000 people and and I'll never forget calling a match between Germany and Poland. In Dortmund Germany which was an incredible match she wasn't decided until I think the 88 minute of that match. And just think about the history of those two nations. And at that time still true today. Germany had never lost the World Cup matchup Poland so it was there was a pulsating feeling before you ever walked into that stadium. And here we were right in the middle of the body -- thousand people. In on one side you had the polish fans who wants idea that the German fans. The greatest matches played in that particular World Cup. And I'll never forget that feeling -- it went way beyond athletics. You know in when Germany finally scored. Very late in the match and closing moments you could see the polish fans almost melted in the east because they had lost again. To their rival club. The rival Germany it was it was one of the great experiences as they said my life and and I walked into Olympia study on on the day of the final. And outside of that stadium there was a bell sitting in the grass he could tell it had been there for many many years it had in Nazi swastika on ball. And a bullet hole right and -- And it it had been sitting there and it'd been left there as a reminder since the Second World War I get chills when I walked into the stadium that morning what. You just touched on a bunch of stuff which would have aptly blown anybody away but was there one thing. When you go into it you start doing it and buck and when it's all said and done you look back and say I really didn't expect to be -- Well we we knew Italy in a particular World Cup was going to be very very good in and probably would win it's a India had a a favorite going in. We thought the United States would have a better. Showing in that particular World Cup because it was a pretty strong team. Veteran guys who had played overseas have played. In the Premier League it played in the Bundesliga have played in some of the premier leagues in in Europe so. I think the surprise for us was the United States did not get out of the group when they were quick exit. But -- there was so many really good European teams I mean. And great players you know Leonel Messi is there Cristiano Ronaldo is there Wayne Rooney all these incredible play. And you know the very first match we called on ESPN Marcelo Balboa and my partner and myself. And -- I'll never forget standing there. In them and we were all broadcasting different parts of the world with three different broadcast groups and we were right in the middle of on my left was Diego Maradona -- and on my right was Franz Beckenbauer. With a great German player and here we were right and and that's the World Cup right there in a nutshell you'd never have any idea who you gonna work after I run into at a World Cup and some of the greatest players whoever whoever perform you debuted mentioned something earlier in the conversation about that you'd get pushed back from our community. What was -- like what -- because your background how relieved in soccer other than your own personal background but when you say pushed back what was that was that message boards and emails that. This this you heard from somebody else who heard from somebody else what was they'll like. Yeah it was so it was a first experience in my life with that kind of criticism and and not to say 100% and it was unfair I think of the vast majority of it was but it. It was the first time I had ever experienced anything like that yeah that was the message board stuff. And sort of the that the soccer crowd which is not a big crowd and in the United States has a lot of ex pats frankly would rather hear. A broadcaster from the Premier League with a British accent calling their matches. And now if you look. If you look from that point forward. Almost all of the play by play announcers in a fair number of the studio in analysts. Are also from England which is fascinating to me because the game has such issue Johnny -- in Latin America. And with. With with Spanish speaking. Americans in and also of those around the world that. You know it it didn't go that way instead it went more to the Premier League types who and by the way they're marvelous people like Ian darkened and Marc Tyler those guys who come over and called World Cup matches. They're spectacular. Me. I would love to see the day and it is coming win more Americans get a chance to call the event. But when I was starting out it was very unique. And there was a lot of backlash to even the idea of an American called stick and ball sports to be calling. Forty and be calling -- the World Cup at that and I think you know any mistakes we made were were probably going to be magnified a hundred fold. Like hey we told you so the guys like you should not be calling this scheme but. It as the World Cup went along and all that we all got better at it we -- actually when nominated for an -- at the end of it and we -- very proud of them of the of the production that we put forth. It's a crazy tournament to do because you're calling. Twenty matches and in about 21 days and you're doing all over all over the country the preparation is out of your mind and you never rest in -- get a chance to sleep. But it's worth it believe me it's it was as I said professionally the hardest thing I've ever done but made the funniest thing I've ever been. Wall and gave last question a million to give back to -- game in probably the least inspiring athletic venue. It terrorists to a lot of far away from what we're talking about as possible Oakland's. But by -- Is it when you look at the World Cup now line and like that before you were watching it in -- an avid watcher but now. You look at it dramatically different and say you did back in 2002. Do you look at it -- more discerning how do you look at the World Cup having done what you punted back and. Well I think that whole experience really informed how I watch soccer at this level I think one of the things that really struck me when I was calling matches was. All my god these guys are out of their minds talented and the speed of the team is more than I expected. They're able to perform at this level. At high -- team speeds and so as I'm watching it now. I really appreciate. I can see it even if television doesn't do it justice and and sometimes it doesn't. Just how fast they are and how they can deliver a ball. In full stride I mean in these guys are in incredible shape and they're really fast. Can deliver a ball from forty yards and put it right on the fourth of a teammate. You know inside the the six yard box and then scored goals with their heads and defeat. In ways that that most of us could never dream of in India doing it at these premiums speeds that's the thing that really blows me away. And what I continue to be appreciative of as I watch show up on my little television being in the Brock is with the Fenway. Where at home but you're right I can't get enough of it I think that's true of most. People who have a any. Any interest in soccer and -- maybe even played it or we're just studied the game and watched it for a long time you get addicted to the World Cup is it's a month. It's the best players in the world playing at the highest level you'll ever play but rob they're also playing the game for their country. They're not playing for money. They they're not making boatloads of cash even though you have some of the wealthiest athletes in the world on those pitches in Brazil. You know they're making 253540. Million dollars to play their team in their countries or were going overseas to play. Still they're not doing that the World Cup they're playing for Spain now playing for England to playing for the United States. And they would run through a wall of five year. To bring their side of victory or -- result in those matches and you can't get that everywhere you just can't. Well there -- -- Q reviewing the the big United States and win on Sunday. -- report -- really I think the diocese is gonna come out on top so we we both of the same prediction so we will. I will see you in Seattle and we were real reviewed that entire game from start to finish and I really appreciate you joining. Enjoyed it thanks -- up this year relative.

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