We've all been there, at the bar watching football and listening to the post match analysis, and thinking, “If I got half the chance to do that I mightn’t be half bad.”
Well, in a roundabout way, that is what happened to Dublin native Keith Costigan, who went from being a pony-tailed barman in the faux bar of Fox Soccer Channel’s Fox Football Friday to a close-cropped pundit with some forthright opinions and a sometime scant regard for reputation.
The galaxy he finds himself in now is far removed from the world of Coolock, Co. Dublin, where Costigan, a left-footed full back, grew up playing schoolboy football with St. Kevin’s and later Stella Maris. He then went on to have spells with Bohemians and Bray Wanderers in the League of Ireland.
When the opportunity of a scholarship at Cal State presented itself, Costigan left the grey beaches of Bray for the sunny climbs of California. He also slotted into a center midfield role during his college years and graduated with a degree in finance. Immediately after college he got the opportunity to play in England with Luton Town and duly took it. However, the man who brought him to England was fired and the new manager had his own plans, so after three months Costigan headed back to the U.S. and played with the Portland Timbers in the A-league for two years.
A brief and not too happy spell with Harrisburg City Islanders in Pennsylvania ensued before Costigan returned to the West Coast to move on to the next phase of his life. But what to do? Though armed with his finance degree, Costigan fell into the world of broadcasting by accident.
“I was always the joker of the teams I was a part of, and when I was at Portland I did a lot of interviews with media,” says Costigan.
He was friends with Fox soccer journalist Nick Webster (the two coach a high school team together) and when the opening for the barman’s job on the then Fox Football Friday show came up, Webster thought Costigan would be the perfect fit.
After a slow start, the blond barman started to find his voice and impressed bosses at the station enough to take him out from behind the bar and put him into the pundit’s chair in front of the camera. (And, no he didn’t cut his hair to get the job, instead he got the chop before a Christmas trip home, as a present to his father, who was not the biggest fan of his flowing locks!)
For Costigan, who admits it took time to get used to working with the camera, but that time and experience gained have made him more comfortable as a presenter and game-caller, punditry in Ireland and England is not so different than it is over here.
For now the Dubliner is happy in LA but has not ruled out plans to travel to the big championships. “In the future I would like to travel, and I want to go to the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa. It would be great to have the Irish team there,” he says.
In the meantime Costigan will continue to call games and tell it how he sees it. You might agree with him, but then again if you don’t, maybe you can get off your seat in the bar and take a stab at it. Stranger things have happened.
(Super Sunday Plus airs every week on Fox Soccer Channel at 1 p.m. EST.)
Top movies about Northern Ireland's Troubles