Gabby Logan (right) did an outstanding job fronting the Wales-Switzerland match, while Gary Lineker (second right) was without his old sparring partner Ian Wright, who is working for ITV during the European Championship
Euro 2021 TEAM GUIDE
I never thought I would hear a football pundit say on air, “I have just called my mother and told her I love her".
Mind you, emotions were running high at the time, just after the dramatic and awful news about Christian Eriksen’s collapse in the Denmark vs Finland game. The words came from Alex Scott after the director decided to cut back to the studio, not a moment too soon.
The BBC’s decision to linger rather too long on the shots of the stricken Eriksen was not their finest judgement but studio guest Cesc Fàbregas summed it all up. "Life is more important than football,” he said.
Over on ITV who were about to bring us Belgium vs Russia, they naturally began their programme with the latest Eriksen news with suitable words from Roy Keane, his one-time sworn enemy Patrick Vieira and lan Wright, who is looking less comfortable on ITV away from his mates Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer.
Keane was at his most sensitive but with his full beard he looks like one of those faces you see in the grainy old pictures of Irish farmers in the early part of the last century. I have never actually seen him laugh much but if you want honest opinion about players or their performances, he’s your man.
Amazingly it was decided, apparently with the blessing of a now hospitalised Eriksen, for the Denmark-Finland match to resume, when it would surely have been more appropriate to postpone it until the shocked players got their heads together.
Throughout the season, Wright has formed a fascinating trio with Shearer and Lineker on the BBC. In days of yore, sports contributors never appeared on more than one channel, but Wright joined ITV’s international team in 2014.
He has for a long time been an excellent pundit, honest and brave with his opinions. Long gone are the days when he was just a ‘jack the lad’ comedy turn but on the BBC he always injects a large dose of wit and humour into his observations during the domestic campaign, but he appeared to lack some of that zing over the weekend.
The BBC had Gabby Logan fronting the Wales-Switzerland match. She did an excellent job, getting the very best out of Ashley Williams and Hal Robson-Kanu who were in the team that made that historic run to the semi-finals five years ago. Both were scorers and Gabby showed the fantastic ‘Cruyff turn’ goal scored by Robson-Kanu.
Incidentally, both are articulate and bright and will almost certainly be regular faces on our screens. The build-up to the match in far-off Baku in Azerbaijan was very moving even with Neil Kinnock’s contributions and the Welsh anthem, sung loud and clear by the team and the few supporters who had managed to brave the long journey, nearly brought a tear to this jaundiced eye.
No surprise that Gabby was the right one for that job. Her father Terry Yorath was a Wales international and she has bags of broadcasting experience going back to France 98. For my money she is far and away the best female sports broadcaster in the business.
While the Welsh team get good marks for the singing of their anthem, best performances came from the Turkish and Italian teams who puffed out their chests and sang their national songs with full gusto before their match which started things off last Friday. God Save The Queen never quite lends itself to a dramatic delivery but the Scots and Welsh can knock out their anthems in full voice.
England defeat Croatia