Traveling back and forth between Moscow and Sochi, Telemundo soccer announcer Andres Cantor will call nearly 20 games in the first round of the 2018 World Cup alone.
It's something he's familiar with by now, as he heads into broadcasting his ninth consecutive tournament — his first for TV since the 1998 World Cup that had him whipping around France in a helicopter.
But for a man whose signature cry of "Goooooooooooal!" graces some 200 soccer games in a given year, the added stress is well worth it.
"The World Cup is a totally different animal," Cantor tells CNBC Make It. "I always say that it's 64 Super Bowls rolled into one month, so there's lots of emotion."
It's that emotion that first earned Cantor global attention. He was already famous among Spanish-speaking audiences when he captured the attention of English-speaking critics and soccer fans across America with his impassioned calls of the U.S.-hosted 1994 World Cup. That fervor even led to an appearance that July on "The Late Show with David Letterman" to reenact his play-by-play enthusiasm and iconic call.
Being known for something so specific has its pros and cons.
"It's very flattering when [fans] recognize you, and it's very funny when people start yelling their guts out in front of you," Cantor laughs. "Basically I've lost my identity. Many people know me by name, but many people say, 'Hey, you're Mr. Goal!' so it's like, OK let me change my last name from Cantor to 'Mr. Goal.'"
Cantor often reminds people he wasn't the first Spanish announcer to belt out 10-, 15- or 20-second shouts to let viewers know a goal had been scored — it had been a mainstay in Latin American soccer broadcasts for years when he was growing up in Argentina. But he was among the first to bring the style to the U.S., at a time when soccer was starting to gain a national following, which certainly helped cement his association with the exuberant outcry.
It even landed Cantor his first broadcasting job.
In 1987, a young Cantor showed up for an audition at Spanish International Network (now Univision.) Having never been in a television studio before, he wasn't sure what to expect, but he brought the two suits, two shirts and two ties he was instructed to bring and got ready to call two test games. After breaking for lunch and calling color commentary, Cantor shifted to play-by-play as the match began.
"And when the goal came I said, 'Goal!' I started yelling and the guy noticed, and I guess he liked my style and offered me a full-time job within 72 hours," he says.
Decades later, it's still in style. But with years of shouting comes vocal strain, something Cantor encountered in past World Cups.
"I called every single game of the '90, '94 and '98 World Cup," he says. "That was 50-some games in a month. That was very strenuous on the voice, so I took voice lessons with a voice coach that Gloria Estefan used."
Now, vocal control, yerba mate — an herbal tea popular with in Argentina — and the occasional bottle of honey help Cantor keep his famous pipes primed. And his signature, strenuous calls have more to them than meets the ear — as Cantor explains, there's a science behind it.
"The anatomy of the goal call really is based first and foremost on the importance of the goal," he says. That could mean anything from a late goal scored by an underdog, to an absurd goal, like the mid-field cannon to complete Carli Lloyd's hat trick in the 2015 Women's World Cup Final against Japan. Cantor spent a total of 38 seconds shouting in the aftermath. Often by the end of a game, he says it's impossible to keep that up.
"It will depend on how much air I have in my lungs, really. Sometimes, I live the game with so much passion and intensity, a 90th minute goal will find me very, very tired," he says. "But … I've never timed myself, it just goes on the merit and importance of the goal I am calling."
Heading into World Cup number nine, Cantor's hoping there won't be a shortage of important goals to call — particularly off the boot of his home country's most famous player. When asked what country someone without a horse in the race should be pulling for, his answer was simple:
"Root for Argentina and Lionel Messi."
—Video by Zack Guzman
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