Ray Hudson (born 24 March 1955 in Gateshead, England), is a retired professional football player and former coach who currently works as an English-language football commentator on beIN Sport.
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Hudson signed with Newcastle United in 1973 at the age of 17, from local team Whickham Juniors. He made over 40 appearances for Newcastle and fans there nicknamed him "Rocky." After four years in the Football League First Division, Hudson moved to the United States, playing for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League from 1977 to 1983. He played the winter season of 1983-84 in Germany with Union Solingen, making 10 appearances without scoring. Hudson also played for the Strikers following their move to Minnesota in 1984, which proved to be the league's final year. Over the course of his eight years in NASL, Hudson scored 44 goals in 197 matches with 99 assists, and was named to five All-NASL squads, including once as a Best XI in 1984.
He followed this with a season playing for Edmonton Brickmen before joining the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the American Soccer League. After a knee injury sidelined him, the Strikers released him. He spent one season (1990) playing for cross-state rivals Tampa Bay before returning to the Strikers in 1991. By this time the team was playing in the American Professional Soccer League. He was released by the Strikers when the club was mired in a four-match scoreless streak to begin the season. In 1992 he injured his other knee while playing in an NASL reunion match between NASL-era Strikers and Rowdies.
After starting out as the Miami Fusion's community outreach director and TV commentator, Hudson was named its head coach in the middle of the 2000 season, finishing the season with an 11-12-1 record. He led the club to the best regular season record in Major League Soccer (the MLS Supporters' Shield, the equivalent of a league championship in European leagues) in 2001 with 16 wins, 5 losses and 5 draws. However, the club was defeated by the San Jose Earthquakes in the semifinal round of the playoffs.
Hudson quickly became known for his fiery personality. One memorable incident occurred after a Miami home win against the Tampa Bay Mutiny. The Fusion scored five goals, usually considered an excellent performance, but Hudson was apparently unsatisfied. He stormed into the media tent and up to the podium. He said, "I've got nothing to say. Any questions? ANY QUESTIONS? No? OK!" and stormed right back out. Interviews with players after the game indicated that Hudson was angered by a perceived lack of effort, even with the Fusion's dominant win.
Following MLS's contraction of the Fusion, Hudson was hired to replace Thomas Rongen as head coach of D.C. United on 8 January 2002. He continued to regale fans and journalists with his wit, stories, and quotes. He once famously said, "There's a lot of talent on this team, and I'm talking Anna Nicole Smith type of talent!" upon taking control of the team in 2002. He worked for ESPN's World Cup coverage in 2002, and came up with a memorable quote after the American team drew 1-1 with South Korea in group play. Expounding upon whether U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel should be thanking his defenders for their works, he said, "I'll be kissing their bums in the showers."
Despite his personality and love for the home fans, United finished at the bottom of the table in the East in 2002 with a record of 9-14-5, and were ousted in the first round by Chicago Fire by a 4-0 aggregate score in the two-game series in 2003. "Someone get me a blindfold and a cigarette!" he said during the post-game news conference. He was replaced by Piotr Nowak in 2004. Hudson's cumulative record as an MLS head coach stands at 46-44-20.
Beginning with the 2004-2005 season, Hudson began TV commentating for GolTV. He is a co-commentator for European league matches and was a co-host of American Soccer until his final (to date) appearance on the show on 29 August 2007. During the 2006 World Cup, he was a co-host for the English-language segment of the nightly Gol TV En Alemania wrap-up show.
Hudson has begun to develop a cult following because of his commentating style, which consists of highly elaborate metaphors and excited, romanticized descriptions of players and goals. One such example came in the 2007 La Liga Championship, when after Real Madrid scored a game-clinching goal, Hudson called Real Madrid coach Fabio Capello "braver than a matador in high heels and a pink tutu!" Shortly before the goal, Hudson claimed that the players were giving off "teardrops the size of pineapple chunks!" A weblog has been established to record Hudson's finest quotations 1 2. In particular, Hudson is a great admirer of the game's most skilled and technically gifted players. The likes of Lionel Messi, Mesut Özil, Riquelme, have drawn particular praise from Hudson. Though usually known for his excitement and love for the game and the style of his favourite teams, most notably Real Madrid and Barcelona, Hudson has been very critical of both England's 2010 World Cup campaign and Fulham's new crest.
In 2011 Hudson made another famous call. Hudson was calling the Super Copa Cup Final (between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid). Lionel Messi redirected a corner kick to his teammate Gerard Pique who heeled the ball through a crowd back to Messi, prompting Hudson to scream even before the goal was scored. When Messi scored, Hudson made a famous analogy by saying, "Excuse me for being excited, but we just witnessed a goal that would wake up a catatonic!".