ESPN announced that five former FIFA World Cup players – Ruud Gullit, Steve McManaman, John Harkes, Alexi Lalas and Efan Ekoku – and the Premier League’s Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez will serve as match and studio analysts for the company’s unprecedented coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa (June 11–July 11, 2010). The six commentators, five of whom were members of a combined seven FIFA World Cup tournament teams and one, a rising star in the Premiership’s managerial ranks, will be part of ESPN’s English-language commentary team in the United States on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC and ESPN360.com.
Gullit, the former Dutch national team star, was one of the top footballers of his generation with is best professional years in the Italian Serie A (1987-1994) playing for AC Milan and Sampdoria. Englishman McManaman played for the Premier League’s Liverpool FC and Real Madrid in Spain’s La Liga, while Nigerian standout Ekoku played for several English Premier League clubs, including Norwich City. Spanish-born Martinez played for Spanish and English clubs before transitioning to the managerial ranks. He will return to Wigan after his 2010 FIFA World Cup role for ESPN in the U.S.
McManaman and Ekoku, who serve as television commentators in England, will make their U.S. debut on ESPN2 today at 12:00 p.m. ET during the network’s comprehensive coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Draw. Harkes and Lalas, two of the most recognizable faces in U.S. Soccer history, currently serve as soccer analysts for the network.
“Ruud, Steve, Efan, John and Alexi will bring fans the first-hand experience they all have from being part of the most popular – and, arguably the most competitive – sporting event in the world, while Roberto will offer a tactician’s insight,” said Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer, event production. “Their in-depth knowledge of the game and post-career roles as television commentators and manager will help elevate our coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup across ESPN’s media platforms.”
South Africa 2010 will be ESPN’s eighth FIFA World Cup and coverage of the event promises to be the most comprehensive in company history. ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will air all 64 matches live and in high definition. ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature broadband network available in 41 million homes, will feature live English-language simulcast of matches on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN Deportes, the Spanish-language all sports network, will air up to 40 matches in Portuguese live in the U.S.
source and image via espn media