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Sunday 18 August 2019

Meet the Irishman who has become a soccer institution on US TV...and now he is commentating on NFL

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Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Have you heard the tale about the broadcasting legend who left Knockbridge in Co Louth 54 years ago and has become one of the most distinctive figures in US sports broadcasting?

Meet the wonderfuly charming Tommy Smyth, who has enjoyed a remarkable career across the pond commentating on soccer for ESPN and can now be found spreading his vocal wings in a whole new sport.

Smyth moved to the United States in 1963 and played with the Shamrock Club in the German American Soccer League, as well as for the Boston Beacons of the North American Soccer League.

Yet he hit the big-time when he moved into broadcasting, with his distinctive and charming presenting style proving to be a huge hit with US audiences.

"I think they must like my accent, which I will clearly never lose even though I have been in America for 54 years," says the 70-year-old, who was been compared to Irish broadcasting legend Jimmy Magee.

"It has been an incredible journey for me over here, covering the sport I love and offering what I hope is some insight to the US audiences."

A regular on the ESPN network since 1993, Smyth has now been signed up by Amazon to offer his unique insight into a sport he has developed a huge passion for down the years.

"I fell in love in NFL long ago and when Amazon came to me and asked whether I would be interesting in commentating on American football games, I couldn't believe it," he continues.

"They have myself and Derek Rae, who I have worked with for many years covering soccer games and we find ourselves giving what I hope is entertaining views on a sport we both have a passion for.

"It is amazing to think that someone back home in Ireland could tune in to an NFL game on Amazon Prime and find one of their own providing the commentary. I would never have imagined this could have happened to me.

"It just continues my adventure over here in America and along with the radio show I do on Sirius XFM with Rodney Marsh every weekday, I am having a great time over here.

"I could never have imagined when I moved to America that I would work in broadcasting for so long and I have enjoyed every second of this story.

"I may be 70, but I have plenty of energy left in me and I have no intention of retiring any time soon."

Smyth should be hailed as one of the great success stories of Irish broadcasting after enjoying such a lengthy run of success and even as he enters the eighth decade of his remarkable life, he is in no mood to slow down.

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