Some renowned Vietnamese footballers have taken up TV commentator as not only a career but also a way to continue to live with the sports they love for life.
It is not uncommon world-class football stars to join sports TV channels as commentators after bidding farewell to their career.
With strong knowledge of football, good relationship with players, coaches and football experts, former footballers working for television broadcasters are believed to contribute to the quality of TV commentary programs.
The most prominent example is arguably the former Arsenal striker and France captain Thierry Henry’s £24 million contract to become the match commentator and brand ambassador for Sky Sports, promptly after his footballer retirement in 2014.
In Vietnam, however, sports commentary is still mainly played by television reporters as veteran Vietnamese footballers usually opt for coaching positions and have just gone as far as agreeing to become guests at live commentaries.
Particularly, on pay TV K+, people often see the three former Vietnamese national footballers and club managers, Pham Nhu Thuan, Pham Minh Duc and Nguyen Viet Thang, guesting in commentary programs of domestic and international matches.
But recently, former Vietnamese national footballer Dang Phuong Nam, 41, has broken this tradition by officially signing a full-time contract to become a sports reporter and specialist at the state cable television VTVcab starting from September 2018.
Nam is known for playing in Vietnam’s national team from 1996 to 2007 and coaching for the junior football team at Viettel sporting center.
In the final round of 2018 V.League 1 – the top professional football league in Vietnam, football fans can see the former national footballer in his new role of a sportscaster and a field reporter.
Whether in an elegant suit or sportwear beautifully fitting his healthy body, Nam has brought the audience interesting games.
The live streaming on VTVcab mobile application and the commentary sections led by Nam also made the audience feel extremely reliable.
Football expertise matters
A VTVcab leader told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that it took a long time for this television to sign a contract with Dang Phuong Nam, who “has been the guest commentator of VTVcab for many years.”
“Even though he was just a collaborator, Nam has been assigned the responsibility of leading sports commentary programs many times before, due to his good knowledge and confidence to speak in front of cameras,” the VTVcab leader said.
“While some other football commentators are often criticized by fans for their lack of expertise, bad talk, a sportscaster like Nam will help to overcome this weakness,” the leader praised his new 41-year-old commentator.
Nhu Thuan, who played for the national squad from 1999 to 2002, also works as a part-time commentator for K+.
The 43-year-old said the extra job brings him a healthy income besides his main work as a junior football coach.
Thuan said that one of the deterrents for the footballers-turned-commentators is when they have to comment about people they know quite well in person - coaches, former teammates and younger players.
“I usually start by saying ‘this is just my personal view’, and always try to select my words carefully so as not to hurt anyone,” Thuan said.
“This is why I love to do the commentary for international matches more than domestic games, as I can talk freely without worrying about making anyone ‘lose face’.”