Among the memorable commercials during the Super Bowl was one featuring a different kind of futbol. Millions watched a brief commercial for Telemundo featuring a broadcaster yelling “GOOOOOOOOL!” for 10 seconds — and in two different keys — over a montage of soccer highlights that culminated in an epic mic drop.
He was Telemundo play-by-play announcer and five-time Emmy Award winner Andres Cantor, and his goal call has become synonymous with the beautiful game. His goal call features a blend of tasteful vibrato and guttural enthusiasm that rises above the chorus of cheering fans and other color commentators. Fans have heard it many times during the Spanish-language network’s broadcast of the World Cup over the last three weeks.
“I waste a lot of energy by doing the play-by-play because I get so emotionally involved and so concentrated and into the game that I am really — for me it’s like playing the game,” Cantor said of the effort he puts into his calls.
The 55-year-old Cantor has yelled his goal call during the action in Russia, his tenth World Cup, and countless other men’s and women’s games since joining Univision in 1987. The first time Cantor did his goal call, during an audition with Univision, it had such an impact on his future boss that he was hired just a few days later.
“The person that hired me … took notice, you know,” Cantor said this week in a phone interview from Russia. “It was right after lunch. He was kind of fighting his nap, and that surely woke him up.”
Cantor’s trumpeting of goals, however, was not his own invention. He described gaining inspiration from the vociferous, lengthy goal calls by Argentinian radio play-by-play broadcasters as a child.
“The origin is pretty basic throughout Latin America,” Cantor explained. “Every play-by-play announcer, at least, called the goal long or shorter but with the same emphasis …it’s part of the passionate style. It’s not like anybody copied anybody. I think we all have the same feel for the game, the same passion, the same love, and we all call it pretty much the same way.”
Cantor may not have conceived the goal call, but he certainly popularized it in the U.S.
When Cantor called his first World Cup in 1990, the cry exploded here, gaining him appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and other TV shows.
Today searching “gol” on Twitter reveals that the hashtag consists almost entirely of Cantor’s calls. The cry was even featured on The Simpsons and one web site sells it as a ringtone.
Cantor’s role during the World Cup has undoubtedly helped contribute to the increase in viewership and ratings that Telemundo boasts. The round of 16 game between Brazil and Mexico for which Cantor called play-by-play, for example, was the most-watched weekday daytime program in Telemundo history. It averaged five million viewers during the two-hour game window.
Telemundo Deportes says this World Cup has already exceeded the reach for the entire Spanish-speaking viewership of the 2010 tournament, which had 32.2 million viewers for 60 games. This year Telemundo says it’s had 34.7 million TV viewers through the quarterfinals in Russia.
While Cantor expressed gratitude for the recognition he receives for his goal calls, he also appreciates when his listeners recognize his work during “the rest of the 90 minutes where there is no goal call,” which includes analysis, expertise, emphasis on the buildup of big plays and knowledge of players.
“All of that makes me very proud when people come up to me or write on social media, ‘You’re spot on because of all of those other attributes, not just the goal call,” Cantor said.
It should come as no surprise, then, that in grading his own goal calls, Cantor considers more than simply the number of seconds for which he can hold his cry.
“What makes a great goal call … the moment it happened, the importance and the relevance of the goal, but also since I’m very self-demanding, it has to do with the flow of my play-by-play before the goal. The way I set up the goal as it’s about to happen,” Cantor said.
Using Cantor’s criteria, USA TODAY Sports compiled a list of his top five World Cup “goal” calls of this decade with an assist from the man himself.
One call missing from the list, however, is Cantor’s favorite goal of the 2018 World Cup: the winning goal of Sunday’s World Cup Final.
“What is the best goal call? The next one,” Cantor said. “The winning goal, the final will be my best, I hope.”
5. Yerry Mina of Colombia’s game-tying header in the 93rd minute that sent the game to penalty kicks. Cantor explained that because the goal was a corner kick, “you have some more time to set up and build the awareness that something big might happen. That buildup of anticipation constitutes my best goal calls.”
4. Hirving Lozano’s goal for Mexico against Germany during the teams’ opener to group play, which gave Mexico the 1-0 win over the defending champions. “It was a monumental goal for what it meant to Mexico,” Cantor said. “That in itself was a very important goal for a Latin American team that took the lead against the world champion.”
3. Marcos Rojo’s game-winning goal for Argentina against Nigeria with three minutes left during this World Cup’s group stage. “Argentina with Messi, the world superstar, was three minutes away from elimination in the first round, which would have been a disastrous thing for Argentina’s soccer team,” Cantor said. “Marcos Rojo scored three minutes from time, so that made it an important goal.”
2. American Carli Lloyd’s third goal scored from midfield against Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final, which completed a hat trick. “Regardless of language, gender, race, I mean Carli Lloyd’s 50-yard shot on a World Cup Final has got to be fighting to be the top two of my goal calls, definitely,” Cantor said.
1. Landon Donovan’s goal during the USA vs. Algeria group-stage game in 2010 that sent the Americans to the knockout round. Cantor wagered this was likely his favorite goal call of the last decade so far. “The buildup and the flow of the play-by-play, and the excitement of the drama in my voice, and obviously the importance of the goal made it a memorable goal call for me,” he said. “I almost fainted … the only thing that prevented me from fainting was that it was almost 32 degrees that night.”