Andrés Cantor, the Telemundo commentator most famous for bellowing “goooool!” at each World Cup score, has a couple of rituals before every broadcast. He starts by blowing through a straw, as if it were a trumpet, to the tune of the United States national anthem to loosen up his vocal cords. He drinks water to hydrate and sets some honey nearby to soothe the throat when necessary.
For many fans of the sport, including English-speaking ones, soccer sounds like Cantor’s voice.
His voice was used for a cartoon version of himself on “The Simpsons” and he has used it in television commercials, in English, to pitch insurance, cars and other products.
The 2018 World Cup tournament is the ninth Cantor, 55, has worked and the 10th he has attended. On Monday, after calling the match in which Brazil defeated Mexico, Cantor, who is from Buenos Aires, spoke between snacks. He had been on the road for more than a week.
Answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Q: Whom did you listen to when you were growing up?
A: I grew up listening to radio in Argentina, and most of the announcers call the “gol” the same way. Perhaps it was a different style back then. I’m talking about the late ’60s, early ’70s, and it was a different type of broadcasting. I remember listening to José María Muñoz, a broadcaster in Argentina and in all of Latin America. All of the kids who liked soccer grew up listening to him. We all grew up listening to radio and to the goal being called that way.
Q: Have you ever lost your voice midtournament?
A: I haven’t lost it altogether. The other day I did a very emotional game. The Argentina-Nigeria match, which had Argentina on the ropes of being eliminated in the first round until the 87th minute. When there is a lot of emotion, the voice usually gets worn out more than not. That game really destroyed my voice. I’ve been on a plane for 10 nights in a row. The difference in temperature, outside being hot and inside being cold, compound that with the lack of sleep, it wears out your vocal cords.
Q: How do you translate the energy of a match into your commentary?
A: The idea is to have the people on the edge of their seats, to play the game alongside the players. The idea is not only to yell out “gol.” I just try to get people enthused, at least, those who are not hard-core soccer fans.
Q: Have you ever had to play down your Argentine accent?
A: Never. I will never do so. I am proud of my Argentine accent. After all, I live in Miami, and in a given day I can switch from Colombian Spanish to Cuban Spanish, to Puerto Rican Spanish, to Central American Spanish. I have a little bit of an accent from everywhere in Latin America. But if you get me mad, you will hear my best Argentine accent.
Q: What is the most emotional goal you’ve ever called?
A: The Landon Donovan goal in South Africa in 2010 for the United States national team. I called that for my radio company. That was the last play of the game. The U.S. was supposed to be eliminated in the first round and scored, and I just went nuts. I lost it the other day with Argentina’s goal against Nigeria. (Argentina was eliminated Saturday in a loss to France.)
Q: How annoyed do you get when people ask you to yell “gol!” when they see you?
A: It means people are watching and paying attention. I don’t get mad at all. I don’t always give them the pleasure of yelling out “gol,” but it is very encouraging that they recognize me.
Q: Has anyone ever recognized you only from your voice?
A: Many! Many people. I could be in a supermarket line or a movie line, anywhere, and someone will say: “I recognize your voice. How are you?” That is one of the most flattering compliments that I can get.
Q: Do you practice your goal call?
A: Never. You cannot practice a goal call, because I don’t punctuate the goal because it’s a goal. It has to do with the play. There is no way to prepare for a goal. Some come out better than others. It has to do with importance of the goal, the moment. There is no way to practice.
Q: If soccer sounds better in Spanish, what else sounds better in Spanish?
A: Everything. Life.