Gus Johnson: No regrets over foray into soccer broadcasting
The Gus Johnson soccer-announcing experiment did not end up working out, but the enthusiastic broadcaster has no regrets about his foray into the sport.
Speaking on SI's Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch, Johnson reflected on his time covering the beautiful game, offering comments on his top memories with the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson and the fan reaction to his time in the broadcast booth.
"I did all I could do. I trained as hard as I could to do it," said Johnson, who still calls college football and basketball for FOX. "It was a sport that I learned from scratch, and I think it was a wonderful experience. Looking back on it now, I had so much fun being part of that sport, getting a chance to go to those places, Barcelona, Real Madrid, onto Germany, watching Bayern Munich. ... Traveled all over Europe, had a chance to call two Champions League finals, two FA Cup finals, those are things I'll remember for the rest of my life.
"I'm proud of my work that I did over there considering how it started and where it ended. So I have no regrets."
Johnson was then asked if he was surprised by the fan reaction to his calling the sport given his lack of experience.
"I don't read a lot, but at that particular time I did read some things, and I understand. Soccer fans are passionate about their sport, they're finicky about their tastes in announcers, they want it to be called a certain way. I understand, I don't begrudge anybody or any of those fans about their criticisms. It was a big task to try to do something like that without any experience. I had zero experience. As I've honestly mentioned, when I went into soccer I didn't know the difference between a soccer ball and a hockey puck. ... I gave it my best effort, and I don't consider it a loss. I don't consider it a win, but I don't consider it a loss."
Johnson also said he did not watch the Women's World Cup ("I was kind of soccered out at that point"), something which he was initially slated to call in part of his preparation for the 2018 World Cup.
Listen to their whole conversation below:
(Soccer talk begins at the 21:20 mark)