Why you should care

Because if you’re still holding out on soccer, this fervent fan turned commentator might be just enough to change your mind.

James Rodriguez’s spectacular volley from just beyond the arc of the penalty box — distinguished as the World Cup’s best goal — had fans around the world captivated. And with 170 other goals, the 2014 World Cup tied 1998 for the most ever netted. Yet a significant number of sports fans remain obstinately attached to the high tallies of basketball or football and bemoan soccer’s long, scoreless stretches. But beyond the dazzle of high scores, might these naysayers hop on board the fútbol hype if met with the frenetic, ear-splintering commentary of an elderly gentleman?

Enter Tiziano Crudeli, brazenly biased Italian broadcaster extraordinaire. His appearance suggests a mad scientist, but rather than dabbling in reincarnation, his field of expertise is Italian club soccer giant AC Milan. Hands shaking vigorously beside his face like two giant hummingbirds, gray mustache quivering, the crimson-faced Crudeli welcomes each of his beloved Rossoneri’ s goals with the exuberance others might reserve for a late-game winner. Given that he supports one of Serie A’s most storied clubs (AC Milan has won the league 18 times), the 71-year-old Crudeli has had plenty of goals on which to build his reputation.

While his antics elicit a range of amusement, disbelief and incredulity from fellow announcers, when watched from a safe distance they’re irresistibly entertaining. So before you see him in action, plug in some headphones — because it may be more appropriate to introduce the rest of the office to Crudeli via a Friday afternoon email than a surprise outburst from your speakers. From OZY’s YouTube history to yours:

Crudeli, by neglecting to feign any concern for bipartisan support, embodies a level of fanaticism already present in the “big four” American sports. Whether seen in Spike Lee’s religious attendance of New York Knicks games or in the Super Bowl’s record-breaking TV ratings, this sort of frenzied enthusiasm is something we have come to expect as a cornerstone of sports culture in America.

Many may question Crudeli’s sanity, but none can question his passion. As raucous fan bases crop up in support of Major League Soccer teams like the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers, it’s time for broadcasters who are as engaged — and almost as uninhibited — as the people filling the stadiums to emerge from the woodwork, and to cheer on the shots that fly between it. With Serie A starting up again this weekend, tune in to the Italian sports talk show Diretta Stadio on Sunday for a chance to watch Crudeli live.

Can’t get enough? Neither could we. Watch as Milan goes down 3-0 to lowly Lecce, only to ultimately mount the improbable four-goal comeback, sending Crudeli through a gantlet of lows and highs. Skip ahead to 2:20 for the Milan goals to start flowing. Boateng indeed.

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