Andrew David Townsend (born 23 July 1963) is a former footballer and current co-commentator for Premier League Productions and CBS Sports who played in two World Cups for the Republic of Ireland national team.
|Full name||Andrew David Townsend|
|Date of birth||23 July 1963|
|Place of birth||Maidstone, England|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|1999–2000||West Bromwich Albion||18||(0)|
|1994||Republic of Ireland B||1||(0)|
|1989–1997||Republic of Ireland||70||(7)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Starting his career at Welling United and then Weymouth, Townsend came to prominence at age 21 when he signed with Southampton. In 1988, he moved on to Norwich City, before joining Chelsea two years later. In 1993, he signed with Aston Villa and enjoyed four successful years before his transfer to Middlesbrough. His final club was West Bromwich Albion, where he retired in 2000. Born in England, he represented the Republic of Ireland internationally, making 70 appearances and scoring seven goals.
He became a football co-commentator following his retirement as a player.
He began his playing career in August 1980 with Welling United in the Athenian League, while working as a computer operator for Greenwich Borough Council in south-east London. After making 105 appearances for Welling, he was signed by Weymouth in March 1984 for £13,500.
In January 1985, he was signed by Lawrie McMenemy at Southampton for £35,000 and made his professional debut at home to Aston Villa on 20 April 1985 as Southampton qualified for Europe, only to be banned in the aftermath of the Heysel Stadium disaster.
Over the next season, he was in and out of the team (then managed by Chris Nicholl) but broke his leg in a pre-season friendly against his old club Weymouth in August 1986. He fought his way back to fitness and rejoined the side the following January.
In the 1987–88 he was a virtual ever-present, playing alongside Jimmy Case and Glenn Cockerill in the Southampton midfield. He was a hard-tackling, hard-working midfielder with an eye for goal. It was a shock, therefore, when Nicholl sold him to First Division rivals Norwich City in August 1988, for a fee of £300,000.
He made his debut as a substitute against Middlesbrough on 3 September 1988, before replacing the suspended Trevor Putney for his first full appearance in a 3–1 win over Spurs on 22 October. He retained his place in the Norwich midfield and ended the season with 36 league appearances (5 as substitute) with five goals. He also made six FA Cup appearances with two goals against Port Vale in the Third Round on 7 January 1989. Under manager Dave Stringer, he was a member of the Canaries' 1988–89 side that finished fourth in the top flight and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup. At the season's end, Townsend was shortlisted for the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, which was won by Mark Hughes.
After making a total of 138 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 12 goals but winning no trophies (they never finished higher than 11th in the league while he was there), he transferred to Aston Villa in July 1993 for £2.1million.
In August 1997, just after the start of the 1997–98 season, he transferred to Bryan Robson's Middlesbrough for £500,000 having made 134 league appearances for the Villans, scoring eight league goals.
He made 37 appearances in his first season on Teesside, scoring twice as Boro' won promotion to the Premier League. In the 1998–99 season, he formed a useful partnership with Paul Gascoigne as Middlesbrough finished comfortably in mid-table in their first season back in the Premiership.
In the following season, he found it harder to get into the first team and on 17 September 1999 he moved down a division to West Bromwich Albion for £50,000. Townsend's high wage demands prevented a move back to Norwich or a loan spell with non-league Boston United.
In his one season at West Bromwich Albion he only made 17 league appearances before a recurrent knee injury forced his retirement in July 2000, after a season in which Albion narrowly avoided relegation to Division Two.
"I was very flattered by Albion's offer. I thought long and hard about it but I just felt that if I am going to go down the road of management I am going to have to do things my own way."
His contribution to Norwich's successful season saw Townsend selected for the Republic of Ireland, making his debut against France in February 1989. He qualified for Ireland due to his Irish family heritage.'
He played in the next year's World Cup, in Italy, where he played in all five of Ireland's matches. They reached the quarter-finals, the country's strongest ever campaign. The Irish drew their three group matches – against England, Egypt and Netherlands. Scoring a penalty in the shoot-out with Romania, his country were eventually sunk by a Salvatore Schillaci goal for the hosts. They had conceded just three goals in those five games.
He was captain of the Ireland squad for the 1994 World Cup. All four teams of Group E finished on four points, they got their revenge on the Italians, but were defeated by Mexico and drew with Norway. Ireland lost 2–0 to the Dutch at the Citrus Bowl in the knock-out stage.
Townsend's most prominent role was as part of ITV Sport's live Champions League, FA Cup and England internationals coverage. He took over from Ron Atkinson as the channel's lead co-commentator, forming a long-running partnership with main commentator Clive Tyldesley, as well as appearing as a studio pundit. He co-hosted Talksport's Weekend Sports Breakfast on Sundays with Mike Parry, and hosted the station's drive-time show on Fridays. He also hosted the mid morning discussion on talkSPORT from 10 am to 1 pm from Monday to Friday, having replaced Jon Gaunt, who was sacked for calling a guest a Nazi. He has left the station because he no longer wants to commute from his Midlands home to the London studio. He also hosts ITV1's regional programme Soccer Night, alongside Peter Beagrie. Townsend was part of ITV's coverage of the Premiership after they won the rights from the BBC to show top flight football on Saturday evening. In January 2015 ITV confirmed that Townsend, along with presenter Adrian Chiles, would not be retained by the broadcaster after the expiry of his contract in the summer of 2015, with the channel having lost Champions League broadcasting rights.
After leaving ITV in 2015 he joined BT Sport as a co-commentator for their coverage of the Premier League, FA Cup, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. He made his co-commentating debut on 15 February 2015, co-commentating on Arsenal vs Middlesbrough in the FA Cup fifth round alongside Ian Darke.
He has also presented BBC Radio 5 Live and written columns for the Daily Mail. He has also been the commentator on several EA football games with Clive Tyldesley including 2006 FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League 2006-2007, UEFA Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, UEFA Euro 2012, 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and most recently FIFA 12 to this game FIFA 17.
Townsend was a consultant for Harlequin Property, where he helps set up football schools at their Caribbean resorts. The company's proposed investment into Port Vale had set in motion plans for him to become a football advisor at the club, though nothing was to come of these talks.
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