The commentator's tale
Manchester United fans who watched the 1999 UEFA Champions League final unfold on television screens throughout the UK will forever associate the voice of Clive Tyldesley with that dramatic night.
Here, the ITV football commentator who famously cried,
“And Solskjaer has won it!” shares his memories of an unforgettable evening behind the microphone...
“Let’s not pretend that it was a great final between United and Bayern Munich, but it was the climax of a truly great season – and ‘great’ is an overused word in football. For me to have been a very, very small part of it in my first season as ITV’s lead commentator was incredible.
“As the clock ticked into the 90th minute of the biggest game of my television career, there had only been one goal and I’d called it wrong. I had such a strong opinion of Peter Schmeichel, who was probably the best goalkeeper in the world at the time, that I was convinced Basler’s free-kick had been deflected in. I got that wrong and that was on my mind a little bit as stoppage time began.
“In the first minute of injury time, Peter went forward for a corner and it was total mayhem in the Bayern area but, amid all that, Teddy Sheringham had such a calm football brain to be able to equalise.
“In terms of my reaction to what was happening, if I’m proud of anything I did that night then it’s the pause between the equaliser and what I said next. I gave myself thinking time, which I learnt from my mentor, Reg Gutteridge, and it’s during those times when you’re trying to fish for the phrase that sums up the moment.
“We are essentially broadcast journalists, there to editorialise. What does this mean? What is it about? After four or five seconds, for me it was about one thing: ‘name on the trophy.’ This is meant to be. That’s when the Champions League final transcended into cinematic melodrama and fate took hold.
“Straight away, United get another corner, it comes in and Ole scores that wonderful finish. I said: ‘And Solskjaer has won it!’ which breaks every rule of sports commentary. Never call the winner until the horse has crossed the line.
“If Bayern had equalised and gone on to win in extra-time or on penalties, ITV might have replaced me. But there was no way. This was the defining moment. This was only ever going to happen once. This was the perfect storm. This was the only shot they were ever going to get at winning everything in 11 days and that’s what made it so extraordinary.”
Clive Tyldesley was talking to the official Treble Reunion match programme, which can be purchased online or at Old Trafford with all proceeds going to Manchester United Foundation.
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