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What are the football presenters & pundits really like?

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Steve Boulton | 07:15 UK time, Sunday, 1 April 2007

Since I started working for Football Focus and Match of the Day, the question I’ve probably been asked most is: "What are the presenters and pundits really like?" I thought you might enjoy hearing about a few of my more peculiar experiences and observations with our talent team, as well as sharing two revealing bits of footage of them that I stumbled across on YouTube.

Let’s start with Gary Lineker. I’m never sure whether the person who’s asking wants me to confirm Gary’s the same lovely bloke that appears in public, or instead fancies an outrageous tale of heavy drinking, chicken jalfrezi and stealing a traffic cone. Because of responsibilities to my employer, I normally plump for telling them the latter. For legal reasons I must stress this incident hasn’t happened … Gary doesn’t eat jalfrezi.

You’ll all have heard Ray Stubbs’ dulcet tones during Celebrity Fame Academy. Anyone who puts themselves through that for charity is clearly a top, top fella – and Ray is. You can imagine the Match of the Day team were very supportive.

However, Stubbsy isn’t the only one of our on screen talent who sings. Garth Crooks sang a memorable karaoke ‘That’ll be the day I die’ at last year’s Christmas party, and commentator Tony Gubba has genuine operatic tendencies. A few festive seasons ago, his offering was so good he was brought back for an encore. Tony effortlessly belted out the song from the Cornetto advert with the real words. Unforgettable.

The most intimidating pundit I’ve come across is Alan Hansen. I clearly remember having to do analysis for him on my first Match of the Day. Tall, imposing and wearing all black I was totally in awe of him. He whipped through everything he wanted in about five minutes and after he left I realised I couldn’t remember a word of it. Thankfully another member of the team must have recognised my paralysis and kindly slipped me a note with all the information I needed. Alan never knew fortunately and over the years I’ve found out he’s got one of the quickest wits you’ll ever see. He can destroy people with one comment. Often me.

This brings me to Mark Lawrenson. The man who has appeared on Football Focus more than any other in the last decade. Lawro polarises the view of football fans. Some love him, the rest love to hate him. In my book he’s brilliant as well as hilarious. He’s been a great support to me while still managing to rip the mickey out of anyone in slagging off distance. When it comes to football, he always says it as he sees it, regardless of who might be annoyed.

The only time I’ve ever seen him lose his cool is when someone suggested that another football pundit in the business was better than him. Lawro was having none of it and raised his voice for the first time in my experience. So I chuckled to myself when I found this on YouTube yesterday.

It’s well worth a watch. There’s been a lot of speculation as to who Lawro might have been talking to and about. We have a number of theories here in the office but we’d love to know what you think!

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