ITV’s lead commentator and Kick It Out mentor, Clive Tyldesley, is currently in Russia working at his seventh successive World Cup tournament.

Before the competition he sat down with our resident blogger, Asif Burham, to talk about his most memorable World Cup moments and his own professional mentors before previewing the action ahead.


From your six previous World Cups, what was your most memorable moment and why?

“The winning goal in a World Cup final is always the biggest goal scored in the four-year cycle. It is the most important football match played on the planet in that time.

“I enjoyed the last final, I thought it was a really good game. It produced a great story with the youngest player on the field coming on as a substitute and scoring a memorable goal to win a very close final. That would be the most recent of my many wonderful World Cup memories, Mario Gotze scoring the goal that won the last World Cup”.

 

You’ve unfortunately never had the opportunity to commentate on England in a World Cup final so what was your favourite England World Cup moment?

“When Steven Gerrard scored in the first ten minutes of England’s campaign in South Africa, it was a hugely uplifting moment. For the minutes that followed before the United States equalised, you do get swept along with the moment, the excitement and the anticipation that scoring so early in the opening game brings.

“That turned out to be one of the most bitter experiences with England I can recall. It was a divided camp that didn’t play up to its capabilities. I think this squad will be easy to support. They are a young team, it’s a happy squad they are very much together, they get what it’s about. Gareth Southgate is an intelligent and insightful man who will bring the very best out of his squad”.

Who was been the co-commentator or other colleague who has helped you the most?

My chief mentor in my job was strangely a boxing commentator -  the late, great Reg Gutteridge. He took a particular interest in trying to school me and help me. One of the things that he taught me was to commentate to your grandma, don’t commentate to the England manager, she counts as a viewer just as much as he does. Be inclusive with your commentaries not exclusive. Commentate to “white-van man”, commentate to a taxi driver, don’t try to commentate to the dressing room.

“Don’t try to impress people with how ‘inside-track’ you are. This is mass-media. Everybody that is viewing the match counts. Anything I say that invites people in to understand what World Cup football is about is far more important than any wonderful turn of phrase I can come up with at a dramatic moment. It’s not about individual moments, it’s about the entire experience.

“We live in a Twitter age where everybody can be a critic or a supporter. Twitter is not an opinion poll, it’s not a careful cross-section of the public but it’s an easy place to start a wildfire. During the course of a tournament like this, I think it’s important for me to never become so blasé as to ignore feedback, you do have to broadcast the games in as a careful and respectful and editorially-strong way as you can and hope that you do the job for the majority of the people who are watching”.

 

You will be in Russia for five weeks, what will you miss most about being away from home for so long?

“My wife! We spend a lot of time travelling, there’s a lot of dawn alarms, you spend a lot of time at airports and it’s very important that you’re in the company of somebody who realises that this is a small price to pay for the privilege of the job that we’re do.

“In Glenn Hoddle I’ve got have a very decent man as a travelling companion. I’m fortunate he’s also a man who’s managed England and he’s therefore got an extraordinary insight into the pressures of managing at a tournament.

“He’s just a very, very good man and somebody whose company I enjoy. He’s a very easy-going, undramatic man who’ll deal with any delays in his stride”.

 

What, if anything, are you most looking forward to about a Russian World Cup?

“Probably half a dozen of the venues for this coming World Cup are in cities which I’ve never heard of before I started my research for this tournament. It is happening in a very distinctive culture, a country which has characteristics which we might admire, some of which we might hate, which are very much theirs.

“When we are working and supporting and operating in Russia, we are going to have accept that that is the inherent culture and we’re going to have to deal with whatever issues that come up”.