Best pitch presenter you’ve ever seen:
Not a traditional pitcher, but I think Andy Ansah has some of the best energy and
insight in the sports game – both as an ex-athlete and as an industry-leading
producer right now. He’s always inspiring and entertaining to listen to, and is always there to offer encouragement and advice when needed on a personal level,
Best sports marketing campaign (that wasn’t yours):
There are so many Nike campaigns to choose from here, but the one I remember most is ‘Joga Bonito’. The mini-films that strung the campaign together felt very underground and embraced digital video and distribution before it was a thing – and it made Nike feel like a challenger brand, which is extraordinary considering
their scale and prominence.
Best agency (that isn’t yours):
I’m really interested in Roc Nation’s emergence in football over the last 12 to 18 months. They’ve signed some remarkable talent and are already working magic, just taking Marcus Rashford and his recent movements as an example of that.
Best young industry talent:
Safraz Ali is doing big things at Nike – very fresh thinker from a brand comms
perspective and open to creativity and new ideas, which is always welcome as a media partner.
Best sporting event attended:
The Rio Olympics in 2016 was like an out of body experience and I had to pinch myself most mornings, but on a personal level, the drama and significance of England vs Colombia (and the subsequent penalty shootout) is hard to beat.
Best sporting event on TV:
I think any world heavyweight title fight is still a uniquely intense occasion that
puts you on the edge of your seat. Big time boxing is the king of sports television, unfortunately there’s just not enough of it!
Best brand ambassador:
I think David Beckham has been used so well for so many years by adidas. That longevity and relevance is hard to beat.
Best industry event or conference:
I’m not about the industry life too much, but I think the Football Black List is
something that has legitimate purpose and deserves more shine.
Best film containing a scene depicting the sports business:
I feel like ‘The Four Year Plan’ is one of the first times we really saw inside the
boardroom of a top football club. It showed us how chaotic and wrong club owners can be, while Amazon’s entry in the genre does everything it can to hide that fact. I can’t help but feel TFYP is closer to life, and more insightful as a result.
Best book recommendation:
So many options here for work or pleasure. ‘The Art of War’, ‘The Club’, ‘The Dispossessed’, ‘Shoe Dog’, ‘Flat Earth News’, ‘Norwegian Wood’, ‘Start With Why’, ‘Natives’, ‘Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times’, ‘The Mixer’...I can’t pick
Best holiday resort:
I spent every summer visiting family in Cork, Ireland – and I still get a special
feeling when the plane touches down on the runway anytime I visit. For a more
traditional holiday destination, I still love NYC.
Best box set:
I’ve watched The Office US front to back about six or seven times by now. It got
me through uni, countless commutes and a couple of house moves. It’s my ultimate comfort blanket.
Best influence on your career:
I’ve worked with my colleague Lewis since I was 16 across various projects – from
starting our own student magazine at sixth-form, to joining the start-up team at
Complex UK, to launching VERSUS together in 2017. I think that’s a very unique
journey for two people to have made from school onwards, so I’d have to say him.
Best dinner companions (min 4, max 6):
I’m a child of the Premier League, so I’m just gonna go all out and invite the best managers I’ve seen in my lifetime and ask them to pull apart the stories behind the rivalries and players I grew up on. Arsene Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, and Sir Bobby Robson. I’d just sit under the learning tree for a few
hours and drink it in.
Best job in the sports biz:
I feel like it’s Michael Buffer or Bruce Buffer. Performing for the crowd – without any risk – and then getting a front row seat for the biggest fights in the game is a dream job.
Best professional regret:
I’m lucky enough to not have any major regrets yet. There are always things you would change with hindsight, but I’ve always been confident in my decisions and try to make the most of them. Always move forward.
Best skill you most covet:
I’m a solid creative thinker, but not much of a creative doer. I’d love to have more technical skills – I’m in awe of artists, photographers and videographers who can
put together amazing work.
Best trait you admire in others:
I think initiative is so important. If you’re someone who can solve problems with agile thought and logical processes, it’s invaluable. And that remains true at every
level of any organisation.
Best overrated virtue:
Modesty is a wonderful quality for people to have in personal relationships, but I think you have to leave that at the door to a certain extent in business. You need to be confident in your ability and project that accordingly.
I’d love to write a book, eventually.