Dubliner Costigan talking the talk in City of Angels

Keith Costigan is still on Dublin time, having just returned to Los Angeles from a trip home.

That makes it a hell of a lot easier to discuss his television career at 7am in California.

It also helps that the former Bray Wanderers and Monaghan United player has always enjoyed a challenge.

Encouraged by the long-time Seagulls manager Pat Devlin to bring his talents to bear with a college scholarship in the United States in the late 1990s, the then 20-year-old Coolock native was strong-willed enough to choose a degree that wasn’t exactly a comfort zone for your average student athlete.

“In Ireland, I was doing night classes in Drumcondra at Plunkett College near Home Farm (where he was training full-time) to get myself eligible for college in the US.

“When I got accepted at Augusta State University in Georgia, I picked a course that I thought would be difficult.

“I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it. So I picked finance. I haven’t had a chance to use the degree really but it’s nice to join in on conversations about the economy.”

Conversations about the English Premier League and the Champions League on the Fox Soccer channel have made him somewhat of a household name in the game in the US.

His evolution as an accomplished football analyst has been organic, a classic case of “one thing led to another”.

Colin Clarke, a former youth coach at Aston Villa and Charlton Athletic, ran his team at Augusta State and organised a transfer for him to California State University, Bakersfield from where he graduated and earned a professional stint in the second tier of the US game, at the Portland Timbers in 2001.

Former West Ham player Bobby Howe was the man in charge at the time and one of his teammates during that two-season spell was Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill, the man who took Shamrock Rovers to league glory in 2010 and 2011.

“It was a very good level and I certainly enjoyed playing there.

“It was a good city and a good atmosphere. Everybody dreams of playing in the Premier League obviously but I knew that was the level I could play at and I was very happy doing it.”

In one of the massive success stories of Major League Soccer, Portland have since developed into an incredibly well supported club, regularly filling out their 22,000 capacity stadium with some of the most passionate fans in the league alongside arch-rivals, the Seattle Sounders whose acceptance into the MLS controversially predated theirs.

“We felt like Portland should have been the first city. Honestly, at the time I was wondering how Seattle would last.

“Obviously they threw that back in my face because they’re drawing in 35-38,000 fans a week.

“I think Portland saw that as a challenge, they were never going to back down from that once they got in.

“But they have done it the right way, limiting the capacity of the ground. I’m proud to have played for the team but it’s at a whole new level now.”

As is he. It was Fox producer Nick Webster who first asked him in late 2005 if he’d like to give it a go in the commentary booth.

Trinidad and Tobago were on their way to their historicqualification for the World Cup in Germany and Costigan worked both legs of their showdown with Bahrain.

“They liked what I did and it snowballed from there. It was a case of right place at the right time.”

He still commentates but has also taken on a role on the live game panels alongsideformer England defender Warren Barton, the pair offering a nice UK-and-Ireland foil to the former US internationals Eric Wynalda and Brian McBride.

“I do still have my accent or most of it, just a little slower,” he says.

“I will say though that when I first came in, the adrenaline was flowing and I was rushing to get my points out so I definitely had someone in my ear telling me to slow down.

“And certainly, the longer you’re on TV, the more relaxed you become. I would speak a lot slower than I would in a conversation in Temple Bar.”

Now 35, he lives in LA’s Hermosa Beach while assistant coaching at his alma mater with a recently acquired UEFA A Licence in hand, one of his focuses being to try and get other Irish footballers to follow in his path.

“I like LA. It's a good city.There are two MLS teams there, it’s a hotbed for soccer and obviously with Fox Soccer being based there, it’s the perfect place to be. You never know what will happen, obviously, but right now, I love where I’m at.”

*john.w.riordan@gmail.com Twitter: JohnWRiordan

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