Alan Smith: Penalty Box to Xbox via Press Box

Alan Smith: Penalty Box to Xbox via Press Box

Fifa (1).png

Alan Smith has had a long career in English football

But, in all probability, his different achievements have different meanings depending on the demographic of the supporter.

For the over-40s, he is most famous as an unselfish striker for Leicester City, Arsenal and England. The thirtysomethings will recognise Smith from his co-commentary on Sky Sports. However, millennials will know him best as the voice of the video game Fifa.

He has just written a book, Heads Up, charting his career and I wanted to explore his journey from the grass pitch to the virtual pitch, via the commentary box.


2:00 Whether journalism and commentary was the plan for his post playing career

4:01 Developing the key skill of spotting stories and angles

5:07 The process of writing his book

6.20 The discipline he required to write it

7.42 The problem of trusting your memory when writing a biography 

9:35 His only booking and his it happened

10:42 Transitioning from player to journalist. The moment he was able to separate the two

13:15 How social media has reframed the way journalists articulate their opinions 

15.20 Why he wished he had have had ‘the edge’ of Mark Hughes as a player

16:45 The importance of controlling your emotions both as a sports journalist and on the pitch

18:20 How he manage to move into co-commentary when at first his response was “they don’t want to listen to my whining Brummie drawl”

21:20 How he’ll prepare for a game

22:30 The US model for access. Getting behind the information like in the US and how the Man C documentary might changes

24: 20 The ways Sky Sports have changed in the way they broadcast a game  - stats, 3D, 4K 

25:32 Is it needless to ‘reinvent the wheel’ in football coverage

26:25 Has he been ever being asked to changing his accent. Lifting his voice and injecting urgency  

“The right words in the right tone. You want to reflect them moment the right way”

28.20 What you learn from listening back to yourself

29:01 How his pairing Martin Tyler developed 

29:58 The need of a good personal relationship to make a commentary team work

30:53 The addition of FIFA to his career

“It has given me a bit of kudos among 10-15 year-olds, people who have never seen me as a player”

31:20 Fans taking FIFA too seriously

32:40 The process of recording it each year 

34:23 The prevalence of English. Being the voice of the Premier League of Fifa in the US and beyond 

36: 10 Opening him up to a new audience and Fifa being a window to soccer for young soccer fans

37:34 On whether his career would be possible now for an ex-footballer. 

“You always have someone snapping at your heels”

39:51 How the reporting has created an entirely different environment for a player

41:24 How Arsenal’s old drinking culture would have been reported today  

42:45 Being in the ‘Tuesday Club’

43:49 His media ambitions  

45:00 The reinventions of footballer and waiting for the tap on the shoulder

46:33 The honesty of the book


Alan Smith on Twitter

Heads up on Amazon


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