Peter Drury: How commentator spiced up 2018 World Cup

BY: www.sde.co.ke
Peter Drury
Peter Drury

There are some soccer commentators who are more entertaining to listen to than watching the match. One such bundle of unbridled joy and current darling at the 2018 FIFA World Cup is Peter Drury.

The former British accountant is a masterful poet of biting one-liners which turns watching football into lessons in player bios, coaching quirks and vital statistics.

Drury’s baritone is a ride into history. When Germany duelled South Korea at the Kazan Arena, he informed us that Kazan was one ruled by Ivan the Terrible “and Germany can only hope nothing terrible happens to them.”

Germany needed to win against their lowly-ranked opponents to proceed to the quarters. But in a spirited show of relentless zeal South Korea scored two extra-time goals. Drury intoned above the din of celebration: “It seems like the end of the world, and it certainly is the end of the World Cup for Germany.”

Such spontaneous world play has become his hallmark as was evident when Argentine Kun Arguerro wheeled round a defender and volleyed a score against Iceland at the Spartak Stadium, Drury quivered over the replay: “One turn, one touch, one-nil!”

Iceland equalized and as Alfreð Finnbogason celebrated, Drury, dryly shrilled: “Ice cold, Ice cool, Iceland!”

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Soccer commentators define pivotal moments in a game, sometimes, forever. What they say becomes synonymous with a goal, an incident, the whole match.

Drury, with over 20 years under his soccer belt has illuminated high profile encounters with his signature guttural voice peeling: “Spain on the plane, or Spain in the Russian rain…” as the Spaniards faced possible elimination by hosts Russia in a match played under a drizzle at the Luzhniki Stadium.

The50-year-oldd captures even mundane corner kicks in sublime ways saying “Pique climbed high but Dzyuba climbed higher and Russia as a nation rose highest; 140 million people.”

Spain were on the plane, having lost 4-3 on penalties under the Russian rain and in the din of Russian voices celebrating their impossible win Drury said “There are decibels and then there’s this,” referring to the noise: “There will be a party, a Russian party, this nation will dance on their Saturday night to Sochi!”

Sochi was where Russia met its waterloo after Croatia knocked it 4-3 on penalties.

Drury has done it World Cup after World Cup and in 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Colombian James Rodriguez scored a brace against Uruguay and Drury intoned: “It had to be him, he can’t help himself!”

Germany walloped Brazil 7-1in the same tournament with a winning goal from Mario Gotze and Drury went: “From Chancellor to the cheap seats, the Germans celebrate. ..Mario Gotze smile for the World. Out of the wings and into the global limelight.”

In the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Siphiwe Tshabalala scored the opener against Mexico and Drury was unstoppable at the Soccer City Stadium: “Tshaaaaabalalaaaaa!, gooaal Bafana Bafana, goal for South Africa, goal for all of Africa!.. Jambulila.....Rejoice.....Bafana Bafana have put the first coup on their dazed days!” capturing a fantastic goal at a historic moment under an electric atmosphere.

Drury’s first job was as an accountant before joining BBC Radio 5Live and commenting during Euro ’96. He was snapped up by ITV during France ’98 FIFA World Cup. He then joined BT Sport in 2013 where he continues to impress on European football competitions including Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

Drury despite lacking a discernible regional accent makes up with a distinctive voice.

KTN News Sports anchor and reporter Moses Wakhisi describes Drury as a great researcher. “He must be doing a lot of research before he gets to the pitch, to commentate. He never goes wrong in history, statistics and impressive mastery of players’ abilities.”

It is not just at the FIFA World Cup, Drury’s English Premier League commentaries are sometimes punctuated with “a smoked salmon sandwich of a match if there was one!”

But his most iconic commentary was during Roma’s historic comeback against Barcelona in April, 2018. Roma had lost 3-1 in the first leg and needed three clean goals in their return leg at their home ground of Stadio Olimpico to advance in the 2018 UEFA Champions League. Roma shocked Barcelona with a 3-0 thrashing and Peter Drury was in his element when Greek Kostas Manolas scored the vital third goal.

Drury’s running oratory conjured up imagery of Roman and Greek mythology, quotes famous playwrights from millennia mixed with the emotion in his voice rolling out his expansive vocabulary:

“Roma have risen from their ruins!

Manolas, the Greek God in Rome. The unthinkable unfolds before our eyes! This was not meant to happen, this could not happen, this is happening!

“Beyond reason! Beyond Roman reality! And in the end, beyond Barcelona. How did that just happen? Roma made it happen. History has been made, even in this city and its bottomless well of myth and legend. A sporting achievement beyond anything imagined at the Olympic stadium.” As stunned fans celebrated, Drury continued his immortal run: “It’s a Greek from Mount Olympus, who has come to the Seven Hills of Rome and pulled off miracle!”